Guest post by Germaine Ashu, 2014 Emerging Leader from Cameroon
The technology field, and certainly the green tech sector, is one of those sectors where women professionals make up a very small percentage. Now, thanks to the women pioneers in this sector, awareness has been created over the years and the chain reaction results are visible, with more and more women tearing down the myth of STEM careers being tough for a woman. Women are getting into the sector and excelling. That’s my goal, to be one of the first and few women professionals in the solar business in Cameroon.
The TechWomen program has been a mind-blowing and very inspiring experience for me. I think it’s such an excellent experience that no woman working in the STEM field should leave the earth without experiencing, be it as a mentee or a mentor.
Having the opportunity to be hosted at SolarCity Corporation has given my passion for solar energy generation wings to fly. From a country where renewable energy policies are still being put in place and where the average citizen would not even consider going in for a solar system for his home, due to the high initial cost, I’ve learnt strategies of cutting down cost for solar projects in ways that will work for my country. The products developed by SolarCity are so logically correct and financially beneficial to the consumer. The period spent at SolarCity, even though short, has been extremely meaningful as together with some employees there, we’ve been able to figure out models that would work best for Cameroon.
My main project was on examining the voltage variation with distance from the substation of a selected locality. Working on this project, has gained me skills in analysis and interpretation of huge entries of data points. It has also prepared me ahead of hand, for a time when my current employer, Electricity Development Corporation would engage in solar projects execution, on how to handle voltage variation issues. As secondary project, I work with engineers at SolarCity to design a solar calculator to optimize PV panel size. This would be a useful tool not only for me but to anyone working on solar installation design.
I also got the unique opportunity to volunteer at GRID Alternatives, which gave me even more ideas to incorporate into how to run a Solar Installation company on minimal cost while at the same time creating employment opportunities.
I would say I’m returning to my country not only very satisfied with the TechWomen program but also very motivated and inspired to work hard on my professional aspirations to become an icon in my country’s energy and technology sector. I’m going back to actively engage in mentoring young girls in secondary schools to get into STEM fields and begin career orientation sessions for girls in tertiary institutions. At first, I did that on an individual scale, this time I’m moving out beyond bounds and limits. I hope to work closely with the other 2014 Emerging leaders from Cameroon on numerous projects we’ve already begun drafting.
Germaine holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) from Regional Maritime University in Ghana, and was the first female to graduate with a First Class rating in the EEE major. She is currently completing her Master’s in Renewable Energy Systems at the National Advanced School of Public Works. In 2011, Germaine was selected as a Commonwealth Young Professional and represented Cameroon on the Forum for Public Administration and Management. She has also benefited from ITEC and KOICA grants for Sustainable Energy Management. In addition to her academic qualifications, Germaine’s combined work experience allows her to be a dynamic force on various energy projects. Currently, she is working on mastering French as a second language; being bilingual in English and French will be an asset that will help her become a more adaptable professional.