Claudie Haigneré, former French astronaut, to chair Star Awards judging panel

Nearly 6,000 secondary school students have entered the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards competition since it was established by Eutelsat and MultiChoice Africa in 2011. The sixth edition shows sustained interest from African learners aged 14 to 19, adding fresh impetus to the mission shared by MultiChoice and Eutelsat to encourage young minds to positively change their world via innovative thinking in science and technology.
The essay, poster winners and runners-up of this year’s edition will be revealed at a ceremony to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 7, 2017.
(TOP: Claudie Haigneré during a past space mission).
Claudie Haigneré, former astronaut and French Minister and currently special advisor to European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director General, has accepted to chair the Jury of the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards. It is the first time a woman takes on this assignment, acting as a strong incentive for students dreaming big, especially young women, to live up to their full potential.
Haigneré will preside over an international panel of skilled industry experts, alongside government and academic world members which includes: Ronke Bello, CEO at Innovative Technology Literacy Services (Nigeria); Rodney Benn, Regional Director for Africa, Eutelsat; Melt Loubser, GM of Broadcast Technology, MultiChoice Africa; Elizabeth Ohene, journalist and former Minister of State to the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (Ghana); Prof Stephen Simukanga, Director General of the Higher Education Authority, Zambia; John Ugbe, MD, MultiChoice Nigeria and Jenerali Ulimwengu, a well-known writer, columnist and lawyer from Tanzania.
High-standards of accuracy, creativity, originality and innovation will guide the jury’s decision on the best essay and poster. This year’s topic pushed students to envision the role played by satellite technology in the Africa of the future.
The academic and career paths of previous winners prove that embracing science and technology fields is a source of inspiration that can unlock opportunities for Africa. To name a few, 2014 Zimbabwean essay winner Joseph Mahiya is currently enrolled in a programme run by the Mastercard Foundation. The scholarship is for an undergraduate degree in Computer Science with Software Engineering as well as Electrical Engineering starting August 2017 at West Virginia University in the USA. Eva Chemgorem, the 2012 poster winner is studying for a Bachelor of Science in Economics at Daystar University, Nairobi and will soon pursue a minor in International Relations. She hopes to use her education to shape policy and economic development in Kenya and the rest of world.
In 2010, MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat combined their expertise to initiate an annual pan-African student competition called the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards. The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards encourages 14-19 year-old students to write an essay or design a poster on a satellite-related topic. Country winners from across Africa then compete in the overall awards for a trip to the Eutelsat facilities in Paris, with the essay winner travelling onwards to witness a live rocket launch. Runners-up win a trip to South Africa as guests of MultiChoice Africa and the South African National Space Agency at Hartebeesthoek. Schools attended by the overall winners also receive a DStv installation, including dish, television, state-of-the-art PVR decoder and free access to the DStv Education Bouquet. Winners at national levels win prizes such as computers or tablets.
Claudie Haigneré began her career in the medical field as a rheumatologist and researcher in biomechanics and physiology of movement. After a PhD thesis in neurology, she joined the European astronaut programme and flew on Russia’s Mir space station for 16 days in 1996. In 2001, she went back into space and was the first European woman to fly on the ISS (International Space Station). From 2002 to 2004, she was Minister delegate for Research and New Technologies in the French government, and became Minister delegate for European Affairs the following year.


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