STEMpower's 2nd STEM Center in South Sudan now Operational (Rumbek)
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
After establishing 43 STEM Centers at nearly every Public University in Ethiopia, STEMpower is expanding outwards to nearby African countries. One of those countries is South Sudan.
Last year, STEMpower brought to life the large "beachhead" STEM Center we built at Juba University, in the capital city of South Sudan. Following that nationally-recognized success, we were encouraged to establish 4 more STEM Centers across South Sudan, with the aim of bolstering the largest academic centers beyond the capital. Our next STEM Center site would be Rumbek University of Science and Technology ("RUST"), located 420 km (260 miles) northwest of Juba.
Always a challenge everywhere in South Sudan is the lack of an electrical power grid in the entire country, few paved roads outside the Juba capital, and scarcity of other infrastructure. To establish the RUST STEM Center, we overcame the challenge of inadequate electric power at RUST campus, by installing modern off-grid solar power capacity across RUST's three campuses. Then we supported the South Sudan industry by manufacturing locally the custom tables needed for the labs. Next, we successfully imported the lab equipment.
The most challenging phase was transporting the furniture and lab equipment along the unpaved muddy journey from Juba to Rumbek, just before the drenching seasonal rains arrived early.
Another challenge was setting up the lab equipment. Establishing RUST STEM Center was the first time that STEMpower has set up a STEM Center entirely by a local team in their host country, rather than by our usual experienced team based in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). As STEMpower is expanding throughout sub-Saharan Africa, we are pivoting by training local teams to be experts, especially where we plan multiple STEM Centers in a country.
We met Mou Deng Riiny two years ago, through our solar power projects performed by his SunGate Solutions. Mou was 7 years old when North Sudan invaded his country and his village. In order to find security, Mou fled with his cousins eastwards to Ethiopia, but that route became unsafe, so the little band of refugees walked south to a camp in Kenya. UNICEF estimates that 20,000 boys and young men survived the journey, and became known as the "Lost Boys of South Sudan". After a few years of living in the camps, Mou was adopted by a loving family in Winchester, Mass, and did very well as a high school student, before attending San Diego University, graduating with an engineering degree. He subsequently felt to use his engineering skills back in South Sudan, where he founded SungateSolutions. In addition to his company's technical expertise, Mou has become STEMpower's head of our South Sudan STEM Centers, responsible for site selection, and all phases of STEM Center installation, overall operations, solar power, and communication between the South Sudan STEM Centers and STEMpower headquarters in Ethiopia.
Richard Ring Kuach grew up in Juba, South Sudan, and was attracted to our hands-on STEM Center at the University of Juba. Excited to work with real equipment, he became a volunteer mentor. That experience prepared him to become the South Sudan cluster's chief technical installation expert, expanding access to lab equipment in STEM Centers across South Sudan. His deep knowledge of sensitive lab equipment and computer configuration came in very handy, during the setup at RUST STEM Center.
STEMpower is amid establishing more STEM Centers across sub-Saharan Africa. As of this writing, three additional countries have already received their enriching lab equipment, pending setup. Your support will help us reach even more nations, enriching the lives of thousands of local aspiring engineers, who, like Mou and Richard, have the great potential to lead their countries towards a brighter future.
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