Supporting Educators, Farmers, Engineers, Artists and Entrepreneurs in 2015-
I'm headed back to Uganda for the third time in the past two years to teach a two week long robotics camp, help automate aspects of a farm and teach key electronics production skills so that Ugandans can produce their own electronic products instead of relying solely on imported technology. Through out my travels and workshops I will be collecting video, blogging, developing curriculum, taking pictures, creating interactive art, training teachers how to more effectively teach technology, doing interviews, learning from fellow technologists, building prototypes and writing in my journal every day. When I come back I'll be stitching the video I take together into a documentary about the lives we changed and how we did it. I'll also be sharing the designs of the various projects I work on with everyone for free under some sort of Creative Commons License.
I already have a lot of partners, Ugandan and American, who are working with me to ensure that we continue to have great successes teaching in East Africa. I have the plane tickets and places to stay lined up. I need your help leaving hardware with the people I teach, paying the airline fees to get some of the technology over there and paying people to help me with video editing once this whole thing is over. If you become one of my backers and our farm automation designs work well you'll be able to say that you helped the East African technology and agricultural economy as well as the guys who created a system to help farmers achieve more prosperous harvests.
The documentary video, curriculum and designs that I create through out the project will be licensed under the Creative Commons License and backers will receive updates via blogs through out my activities. In order to make sure the project is a sustainable and easily replicated effort I will be using some of the kickstarter funds to pay for hardware that I will leave with the people I teach alongside wherever I my travel. This way the concepts that I am teaching will be accessible to the whole community after I leave. I'm starting my own international technology education brand and I'm proud to work with the Fundi Bots and other partners to bring the next level of technology education to East Africa. I'm also going to use the funding to get myself some of the creature comforts in life- like travel health insurance and pineapple.
I will be conducting a two week robotics camp with my partners Fundi Bots and Oysters & Pearls, automating a livestock feeder system and an irrigation system with Ideal Farmers Consult, the Fundi Bots and East Carolina University. After those two projects I'l be conducting a surface mount design soldering (kinda fidgety work necessary for actually producing electronics) workshop in Kampala with the Fundis and the Ugandan Institute of Research and Instrumentation for entrepreneurs and technology fans. From there on out I'm either depending on kickstarter funding or heading back to Colorado. If I stay in East Africa I'll be helping my friend Johnny Long set up a Maker Space in Jinja, teaching artists how to incorporate technology into their work and extending my work to Rwanda as well! Funding will allow me to leave hardware with people, teach far more workshops and extend outreach to other parts of Uganda and Rwanda. It will also allow me to bring along the Othermill that Othermachine has been kind enough to loan me so that I can teach a broader workshop offering including printed circuit board design and population. If I really get funded I'll be doing workshops in the US after East Africa as well as wherever else the project takes me. After I do all my workshops and collect all the footage I will return to Colorado and put together the final documentary that will contain footage from all three of my visits to Uganda and the other workshops I deliver as part of this project.
This effort is more than sustainable. It is foundational. Be a part of a partnership that is changing the world one idea, one student, one moment at a time. Get a limited edition unique swag item alongside your shout out in the documentary, be a part of the experience and documentary with a workshop yourself or just follow the story and check out the free educational materials I've been developing along the way. Freedom of information is good for everyone, I'm sharing what I know and stitching together the noble minded people I find everywhere I go teaching workshops.
- Plane ticket- $2,000.00
- Plane ticket change fee- $100.00
- Additional baggage fees- $400.00
- Hardware- $5,000.00
- Transportation- $2,000.00
- Lodging- $500.00
- Food- $500.00
- Video editing- $1,250.00 to $2,000.00
- Misc costs (visas, paper, physical activities equipment)- $300.00
Total- $12,050.00 - $12,800.00.
Luckily, I've already got a lot of this covered.
Excess funding will go towards additional hardware for workshops and transportation to additional workshops in places other than East Africa.
Click here to read more about my work in Uganda.
Why entrepreneurs, farmers, engineers, artists and educators?
Each of these professions involve a wide variety of problem solving soft skills as well as each of their various concentrations. The people who adopt and advance technology need a large variety of problem solving skills to draw from in order to first learn the concepts, then integrate them and finally, hopefully, help teach the technology to the next generation.
I don't even have to explain this one, do I? Entrepreneurs are always looking to learn new skills, create new products, offer services or build community and infrastructure. These guys are key in that they often have resources of various types and are already tied into their community. They get to attend workshops, pursue the technology that interests them and decide if they or anyone in their network is interested in pursuing it further. If they have a team and a need they may teach the skills I taught to their team and others, perpetuating the transfer of knowledge. It's my hope I'll be able to teach a wide variety of entrepreneurs while in East Africa. I hope that if I wind up in Kigali, Rwanda I'll teach a couple more workshops with my new Rwandan friends at kLab.
The World Bank measured Ugandan employment in agriculture at 65% in 2009. Any processes that increases yield and produces more technologically apt individuals is bound to have a large effect on the prosperity of the country. Instead of installing known systems our partnership will be developing circuits to address the specific needs of farmers in Gulu on a piggery and dairy farm, among others. This means that we will be teaching how to design, build, install and repair similar systems as well as creating a model of technologically enabled prosperity to inspire others. The farmers and students at IDEAL Farmers Consult Limited as well as Fundi Bots will be spearheading the agricultural project after my East Carolina University partner Carl Twarogg and I have left. Farmers are natural problem solvers, good troubleshooters and often a decent mechanical engineer. I also grew up on a small farm and worked on a couple others so I have a soft spot and a lot of respect for the people who raise our food.
This one seems even more obvious to me than entrepreneurs. I'm teaching about electronics, sensors and microcontrollers to all age ranges. The engineering population, wherever you go across the globe, is usually very encouraging of anyone who teaches STEM skills. Most importantly, directly applicable STEM skills. I'll also be working with some wonderful people from an organization called the Ugandan Institute for Research and Instrumentation to teach surface mount soldering skills. I'd like to share the rest of the production skills that I have with anyone who is interested and I know U.I.R.I. feels the same. Big brains are always appreciated on any project so I'll be hoping to meet a lot more East African engineers in my 2015 travels.
Artists are basically entrepreneurs with a little bit of paint, right? They are often interested in working with new materials and I'll be targeting them as well as the tourism industry by teaching painters and textile workers how to integrate interactive LED systems into their paints, cloth and possibly even woodworking. There are many different organizations and services that provide support for artists in Uganda. Often these organizations are happy to host free workshops or provide a good network for alerting the population about available workshops.
Ok. These guys are kinda the cavalry in my mind. If I can continue to support and help grow the Ugandan technology education system as I have been with the Fundi Bots then I figure that no matter what, my time teaching in Uganda will have made a positive impact on a lot of people. I have lots of experience teaching teachers and I thoroughly enjoy it. I'll finally get the chance to pilot my various kinesthetic activities (think obstacle course created with the kids to teach computer iteration and pseudo-code) and the curriculum I'm writing to teach boolean logic, transistors and PCB design. I'll be passing everything on to the educators I meet and connecting them with everyone I else I encounter in the community in the hopes of teaching as many as possible.
If you're looking for other East African projects to back here's one that caught my eye- The Impi Automatic, a mechanical watch built by a Uhuru Watches, a South African company with global aspiration.
Risks and challenges
I already have plenty of experience teaching the workshops I propose in this project. The only difference is that I'll be doing workshops and networking in different areas. I have already met people in Rwanda who were a pleasure to work with and Johnny Long has agreed to give me room, board and meals while I'm helping him set up his operation called Hackers For Charity in Jinja, Uganda.
The more people who get involved backing my efforts the more workshops I will be teaching and leaving hardware with schools, foundations, artists and farmers. The more workshops I do the more people I can share my information with. The more people I share my information with the more energy it takes. The more energy it takes the harder it becomes to reach the lofty goals I and my partners set for ourselves. Luckily I have plenty of experience delivering high quality workshops in Uganda as well as the US. While I will be covering a larger geographical area with my travels I will make a point to stick to the type of scheduling that has worked in the past and pace myself according in order to avoid fatigue while creating curriculum, teaching workshops, shooting video and blogging about what I'm doing.
We're pushing the boundaries of technology teaching concepts and sharing the results with the world. We'll be exploring transistor based boolean logic gates in order to teaching a younger and younger audience how microchips work as well as teaching farmers how to integrate sensors and other technologies into their agriculture and livestock practices. Before I leave for Rwanda I hope to conduct a workshop regarding electronics production and prototyping for the public. We're building our curriculum as we go and not just giving people a finished A to B solution. We'll see if things like using an obstacle course to teach computer iteration and artistic embedded design are interesting enough that it will stick with people as a learning experience.
I may eat far too much pineapple. I often do that when I'm in Uganda. I have no qualifications or plan to overcome this. I'm actually looking forward to it.
If I get a ridiculous amount of backers that want the interactive art I will need to figure out how to streamline embedding the electronics. Luckily I know how to make programming jigs, use the conductive thread in a sewing machine and optimize my designs for production so I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to handle backers at the higher levels. I'm also prepared to accept the fact that my downtime might be filled with e-textiles for a little bit. Sounds ok to me!
Last but not least, I'm leaving for Uganda on January 3rd. My Kickstarter effort ends on January 6th so I might not actually know if my Kickstarter was a success until I've been in Uganda for a day! (I'm really hoping it gets funded or close to being funded well before that so I can start ordering hardware to take to Uganda earlier. Also, if I have to pay for shipping because it only gets funded in the final days then that's less money for hardware but something I would figure out.)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)