By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor

Satellite communications company Intelsat says applications for its Space STEM programme are open for teens across the African continent.

This was announced on the sidelines of the 25th Africa Tech Festival 2022, currently taking place in Cape Town.

Now in its third year, the Space STEM programme is a collaborative effort between Intelsat and MaxIQ Space.

High school students from across the continent are chosen for the programme, where they design, build and, for certain missions, launch satellites into space.

It takes place virtually, with each student receiving a STEM kit and engaging in virtual workshops delivered by space education specialists. Each workshop comprises lessons, practical activities, assignments and experiments, according to Intelsat.

“Encouraging students to pursue STEM careers is Intelsat’s way of helping to develop Africa’s next generation of scientists, engineers and space enthusiasts,” says Hans Geldenhuys, Intelsat director of sales, Africa. “We are honoured to play a role in the MaxIQ Space programme for now our third year.”

Gender disparity in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields continues to be a global concern, with women said to only make up 28% of the workforce in STEM.

In the case of South Africa, statistics show women only make up about 23% of the ICT sector’s workforce.

Intelsat is the operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial networks. It will sponsor 30 scholarships for the Space STEM programme.

Interested candidates must be between the ages of 14 and 18, live on the African continent, demonstrate a passion for and knowledge of STEM, have a clear interest in all things “space”, have access to the internet through a smart device with browser capability, have browser skills, as well as be proficient in English.

To apply, applicants must complete an online form and space-related quiz, and submit a short explanation of why they should be selected for the programme.

Applications close on 31 December.

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