Tumo Fortunate Kedumele
Founder, Lead Director at Women in STEM (WiS). And - National Point of Contact (NPoC) for Botswana in the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)
The field of STEM has many benefits that are beyond the generic Math and Science taught in schools, and everyone has a role to play.
What do you do?
I work in the field of STEM research and development (R&D), which involves innovation of projects to be used by the nation e.g. Design of Solar-Powered Street Light lamp. In the Space Science and STEM field, I carry out outreach and development for various segments of the nation e.g. students, general public.
Why did you choose this field?
I have always been interested in Sciences and Astronomy from a younger age, but I was not a big fan of Mathematics. As I grew up, I became more interested in the generic field of STEM particularly in Physics, Chemistry, Technology and funny enough Math at a later time in my secondary school years. In terms of extra curricular activities, I took part in Math and Science Competitions, but in the Science Problem Solving section of the competition. In my last years of secondary school I scooped a National Top Achiever prize for Computer Studies since I was extremely interested in technology projects. This made me realize that I have a great gift in Problem Solving, Projects and STEM, hence when I started my varsity years I pursued BEng Telecommunications Engineering with a local university. Studying this course was exciting, challenging and it broadened my mental capacity a lot. The beauty of it was that it dealt a lot with Physics in Electronics, Computer engineering and Communication. The Communication part of the course opened a gateway into Space Science and Technology through Satellite Communication, Radio Astronomy and Radio and Microwave Engineering. This gateway therefore offered me an opportunity to grow and connect with the Space Science and Technology network of the world through research, innovation and development projects. I then later on joined outreach in the same field which gave me a chance to help build capacity for Space Science in my country. It has simply been a beautiful journey and still going forward.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
The first achievement is the National Top Achiever for Computer Studies which reminds my younger self that with hard work and a fiery passion what they desire is possible and can be accomplished. The next achievement is being able jump into the Space Science and Technology network, the opportunity to establish and lead an organisation within the same field. This achievement tells my younger self that, they should always strive to be authentic, pursue their visions, dreams, purpose, challenge the status quo, be determined and trust that in faith God will always lead and provide.
Why do you love working in STEM?
The beauty about STEM or STE(A)M which includes arts; is that its an unparalleled field and line of work. It is adventurous for the mind since it allows one to be able to explore their surroundings, nature, the world, the universe and engage in problem solving and actually produce solutions. So it is not mediocre and therefore within it one encounters new challenges almost daily. I love the opportunity to research, synthesis, design, innovate and produce functional prototypes that are useful to another person. It gives me the chance to serve and lead my community.
Best advice for next generation?
I would advise them to love exploring, creativity and innovating. To know that STEM is a wide field that holds many opportunities for all, and goes beyond academia e.g. there is leadership and governance in STEM organisations, formation of businesses in STEM and establishment of producing industries through innovation, creation of knowledge systems and societies. The field of STEM has many benefits that are beyond the generic Math and Science taught in schools, and everyone has a role to play.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
1. "Be The Change You Want To See in The World" - Mahatma Gandhi 2. "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood, Now is the time to understand, so that we fear less" - Marie Curie