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Frida Mbabazi’s story begins in Rwanda, at the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST). This is where she laid the foundation for the career that she is pursuing. Frida remembers how nerve-wracking it was for her to join GGAST; for no other reason than the fact that STEM industries are traditionally male-dominated. Her experience there, however, tramples any nerves she might have felt because she now accredits it to the many foundational skills that she learned that prepared her for the journey that she is currently on.
Frida Mbabazi is a MasterCard Foundation scholar and an undergraduate at Ashesi university, studying Mechanical Engineering. She has interned with ALEC and Zipline, and she is a part of the winning team of Lafarge Design and Innovation Challenge. Frida has exhibited excellence in many parts of her journey, and part of the reason for that is that she has been empowered as a young woman in her field, and she has been able to connect with many other young women on similar journeys through her experience at GGAST. She also notes that she acquired leadership skills that not only apply to her career but to her daily routine.
Mechanical engineering has been a lifelong interest of Frida’s. When she started high school, she majored in physics, mathematics, and chemistry because those were her fields of interest. She wanted to explore her potential and with the help of her high school teachers, she started a club that repaired broken electric components in the school such as irons, sockets, bulbs, etc. This experience ignited her love for engineering. She specifically settled on mechanical engineering because she enjoyed doing repairs and maintenance, and designing different parts of components.
Her internship experiences play a key role in her skills building. During her internship with ALEC she was working in the department of waste management and she was tasked to find a means to reduce construction waste. During and after this internship, she learned that precision and detail are essential to running big projects. When working with Zipline – a drone company that uses automated sparrows/drones to solve challenges related to delivering medical supplies to hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities – she gained knowledge of the drone’s materials, aerodynamics, and communication capabilities before, during, and just prior to landing, which increased her skills in the internet of things (IoT). With the Lafarge Design and Innovation Challenge, her team were tasked to find means of transforming hazardous fly ash waste into a valuable product. It is through this experience that she learned to be thorough while analyzing the problem or detailing steps for production and their financials, which helps identify the project’s feasibility and scalability.
Frida mentions that the best part of working with Lafarge was doing research because she learned many things that broadened her understanding of the material that they were researching, and how people and the environment react to it. Her team received active feedback and constructive criticism from supervisors, which she values because it provided perspective from more experienced people. They were stretched to be creative in their idea generation. She beams that working with Lafarge equipped her with skills that have made her an asset in design, communication, finances, and more.
Frida has leveraged the AL for Infrastructure network to her advantage when it comes to securing opportunities as well as working with and connecting with other network members. She feels supported by the network and finds that it stands out in diversity, care for the community, and empowering its members – making it the right environment to explore and build upon the skills she has gained by providing her with life-changing internships. For her future, she has set out many goals, but one of her goals has always been to be able to design various components and create models that can identify faults and their sources in the construction, industrial or financial sectors using data collection and analysis.
With the drive, talent, and dedication that she has exhibited, we have no doubt that she is set on the right path to achieve and exceed all of her goals.
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