Human Capacity development programmes on the African continent is one of The African Space Strategy’s action point. According to the strategy, these programmes must be such that they attract the young student population into a “postgraduate pipeline that primarily serves the requirements of an indigenous space sector and the broader requirements for the high-end skills in the changing socio-economic landscape” of Africa.
Inspired by the strategy’s spirit above, the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) organised a series of training workshops for secondary school students on the building of a Simplified Antenna for Satellite data Reception. The aim was to initiate young Mauritians to Satellite/Space Technology and create awareness of these fields’ numerous possibilities for the Republic of Mauritius. The specific objectives were to provide:
- Hands-on training on the building of antenna for satellite data reception;
- Data reception and communication with Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites; and
- ground-station operation using specific software.
The built antenna and the Software Defined Radio (SDR) were handed over to the supervising teacher only at the end of the training. The Council also provided technical assistance in setting up a mini ground station at the school after completing the training.
Firstly, two pilot training sessions were conducted at Prof Hassen Raffa SSS and secondly at Forest Side SSS Girls. The training workshops were done over the school holidays and were broken down into 6 sessions. The first training was conducted from 30 November to 4 December 2020, comprising 17 schools, with 1 Educator and 4 students from each school.
The need to prepare the training materials adapted to school students and also test the antenna system informed the need for the above pilot training sessions. The pilot sessions involved the following activities.
- A theoretical aspect which included an introduction to radio waves and communication.
- Building and assembling the antenna from scratch using affordable components and common materials such as aluminium rods and PVC pipes.
- Setting up of completed antenna on the school rooftop
- Installation and explanation of different software tools, satellite tracking and decoding of satellite telemetry and images in radio amateur bands.
A total of 85 students and 15 teachers in 12 schools and five universities participated in the training programme. 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
For more information regarding the training programme, please visit this website.