MRIC training workshops for secondary school students

Human capacity development programs on the African continent are one of the points of action of the African space strategy. According to the strategy, these programs must be designed to attract the young student population into a “postgraduate pipeline that primarily serves the needs of an indigenous space sector and the general requirements for high-end skills in the changing socio-economic landscape “. from Africa.

Inspired by the strategic spirit mentioned above, the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) organized a series of training workshops for secondary school students to build a simplified antenna for receiving satellite data. The aim was to sensitize young Mauritians to satellite / space technology and to create an awareness of the numerous possibilities these areas for the Republic of Mauritius. The specific goals were:

  • Practical training in building an antenna for receiving satellite data;
  • Data reception and communication with LEO satellites (Low Earth Orbiting); and
  • Ground station operation with special software.

The built antenna and the software defined radio (SDR) were only handed over to the supervising teacher at the end of the training. The council also provided technical assistance in setting up a mini ground station at the school after completing training.

Firstly, two pilot training courses were carried out with Prof. Hassen Raffa SSS and secondly with Forest Side SSS Girls. The training workshops were held during the school holidays and were divided into 6 sessions. The first training was held from November 30th to December 4th, 2020 and included 17 schools with 1 educator and 4 students from each school.

The need to prepare the training materials adapted for students and also to test the antenna system made the need for the above-mentioned pilot training courses clear. The pilot sessions included the following activities.

  • A theoretical aspect that included an introduction to radio waves and communication.
  • Build and assemble the antenna from scratch using inexpensive components and common materials such as aluminum rods and PVC pipes.
  • Installation of the finished antenna on the school roof
  • Installation and explanation of various software tools, satellite tracking and decoding of satellite telemetry and images in radio amateur bands.

A total of 85 students and 15 teachers at 12 schools and five universities took part in the training program. Some of these schools include;

  • Bel-Air State Secondary School
  • Belle Rose State Secondary School
  • Curtin Mauritius
  • Darwin College
  • Droopnath Ramphul State College
  • Hamilton College Girls

Further information on the training program can be found here website.

Faleti Joshua is an avid space lover in all of his incomprehensible nature. He has an LL.B. degree and is a pessimist in his spare time.