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SHE-CAN Scholar aspires to improve Rwanda’s infrastructure after graduation, presents research at SVURS Symposium – by Assumpta Gasana

SHE-CAN Scholar aspires to improve Rwanda’s infrastructure after graduation, presents research at SVURS Symposium – by Assumpta Gasana

PictureAssumpta presents her research at the SVURS Symposium

My goal as a future civil engineer is to aid in the development of Rwanda by helping create better and safer roads, railroads and bridges that will help connect Rwanda’s rural areas to the cities. Although Rwanda has this type of infrastructure, I believe that there’s still more that can be done, and I want to participate in the improvement of these parts of my home country.

When I realized how important developing this part of Rwanda is, I decided to take action towards understanding what’s going on right now. A friend told me about Professor Corrie Walton-Macaulay from the Civil Engineering Department. I went to his office and told him I have an idea and I want to do research but I don’t know where to start. Corrie had never met me until that day but he said, “okay!” I was a stranger to him but after hearing my ideas he immediately agreed to help me and was eager to get to work. I was shocked and so grateful. To have someone like him not only believe in my ideas and research, but want to be a part of the process and help means the world.

This past summer, I stayed on campus to conduct research with Professor Walton-Macaulay as my adviser. My research is about assessing a transportation network in northwest Rwanda for its resilience against natural disasters – more specifically flooding and earthquakes. I also work closely with Janine Glathar, Bucknell’s Digital Pedagogy & Scholarship Specialist for GIS (Geographic Information Systems). Janine has helped me with technical problems throughout my research, and she’s somebody I can count on even when something doesn’t go well. She motivates me and she’s good at finding solutions.

By working closely with these two Bucknell professionals, I’ve learned so much about what it really means to be a civil engineer. This project gives me clear tangible knowledge and background about what I want to do in the future and how I can contribute to Rwanda’s development after graduation.

On August 2, I presented my research at a poster session at the 7th Annual Susquehanna Valley Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by Bloomsburg University. Students from other schools in the region presented posters and judges walked around asking about our research. The judges were doctors, engineers, professors and many professionals who worked in similar sectors attended. I answered questions and talked about my research during the morning session. Many people didn’t know about Rwanda so I got to talk about my home and how my research is relevant to its development.

I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the Digital Pedagogy & Scholarship Office to continue my research throughout this semester. Conducting research after your freshman year, especially working directly with a professor, is usually not easy or common but Bucknell University makes sure that you have as many opportunities to do research and internships throughout your college career. I’m thankful for the expertise and guidance of Professor Walton-Macaulay and Janine Glathar, and I look forward to helping create a better future for Rwanda as a civil engineer!​​