Nsesa Foundation has organized a program “Project iSWEST 2014” where high school students and graduates were SPONSORED to attend a 4-week Innovation Program in Accra, Ghana! Project iSWEST (Innovating Solutions with Engineering, Science & Technology) is an annual summer program in Ghana to get high school students solving problems by inspiring them to be creative, equipping them with the requisite tools, soft and hard - basic science, engineering and technology (SET)-skills, while coaching them to develop innovative solutions to problems in their communities.
The program is run by “Team Nsesa”, a highly motivated group of young Ghanaians from different disciplines effecting change in Ghana by promoting a culture of innovation and problem solving (Nsesa means change in Akan).
This year's program brought together 15 students from 12th August to 6th September at Presbyterian Boys' Secondary School (PRESEC, Legon).
The theme was “The Next Generation of Ghanaian Entrepreneurial Innovators” and consisted of a 2-week workshop phase, 2-week innovation phase and “The Pitch Day”. In the first part – Workshop Phase, students were taught the innovation process and then given basic and hands-on training in Electronics, Robotics, Computer Programming, and Microcontroller (Arduino) over a 2-week period. Students worked in teams on various small projects and had the opportunity to listen to inspiring stories from the members of Team Nsesa.
In the second part–Innovation Phase, 3 teams of students received funds, and were tasked to develop innovative and cost efficient solutions to problems they have identified in the community over a two week period using provided resources, locally available materials and the skills they obtained from the workshop.
Members of Team Nsesa supported and consulted with project groups in the process using project management tools like Slack, Instagant and Asana.
The climax of the summer program was the final day dubbed “The Pitch Day” where students presented their developed solutions along with their business plans to a panel of judges and the general public. This took place on Saturday, 6th September 2014 at Anum Yemoh Plaza, EastLegon.
They had two judges: Professor Ayorkor Korsah an assistant professor in Computer Science at Ashesi University and Mr. Dela Kumahor a Design and Innovation consultant and lecturer at Ashesi University.
Teams were assessed on the social impact, technical feasibility and business viability of their projects. The three teams presented their projects as:
1. MUGEN worked on a device to make the cleaning of window nets, louvre frames and glass windows easier and more comfortable. The device works by using a vacuum to suck dust as it is passed over louvre blades.
2. SWEPP Innovations worked on a device to tackle the problem of post harvest losses of vegetables due to poor storage systems. The device uses evaporative cooling to create a cool internal temperature within which vegetables are stored and their shelf life prolonged.
3. Innovation Republic worked on a device to tackle the problem of medical adherence in Ghana; people not taking their drugs. The device works like an alarm that beeps to remind patients to take their drugs, keeps track of whether the patients have taken their drugs and makes the information available to a doctor.
Team MUGEN won and was presented with a cash prize.
The participants and audience were empowered with talks from guest speaker Ebenezer Essuman founder of Synergy For Success Ghana who challenged everyone to put their ideas into action in a way of making impact in the society.
The students were excited about continuing to work on their projects. They are currently working with the students to redesign the current prototypes, further develop them and then get the products into the market so the problems they identified get solved. They are also working on setting an iSWEST Club & Lab in one of the high schools so students continue building upon the skills received during the program and develop solutions to problems in their communities.
This year's program was sponsored by the Institute for Security, Technology and Society, the Neukom Institute and Thayer School of Engineering, institutions at Dartmouth College, U.S. iSWEST is one of the programs of Nsesa Foundation, a Ghanaian non-profit organization based in Accra.
Their vision is to create what we call an “Innovation Revolution” in Ghana - a state in which the youth across the length and breadth of the country are developing innovative solutions to problems in their communities using Science, Engineering & Technology (SET). At the core of Project iSWEST is the desire to inspire youths of Ghana to believe that they have the capacity to be innovative as well as to empower them to develop solutions to the problems within their communities. “Inspire! Innovate! Impact!”
For more information visit https://www.facebook. com/project.iSWEST and http://www.nsesafoundation.org