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Mastercard Foundation Scholar, Lloyd Teta, Reflects on Four Years at Ashesi University

Class of 2021

I have always been fascinated by both ground and flying machines but was disappointed to learn that the automobile and aerospace industries are among the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world.  I was guided by this when I was accepted to study Mechanical Engineering at Ashesi University as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar in 2017. I wanted to do more than create engineering solutions, I wanted to become an advocate for the Sustainable Development Goal 13 and combat climate change and its impact. I knew that studying Mechanical Engineering would provide me with the skills, training and research capacity to achieve my goals. With the strong liberal arts core and the diverse nature of the Mechanical Engineering fields, I was confident I would have a platform to explore higher educational opportunities in the field of Aerospace Engineering where I intend to focus on designing efficient and sustainable propulsion system. Although Africa has competent graduates, the continent lacks “Opinion Leaders” in instrumental sectors such as manufacturing. Thus, I want to be an opinion leader in the production of sustainable solutions for Africa and bridge the massive gap between Africa’s aerospace industry and first-world countries.

A group of young people with rakes, cleaning up beach in Accra, Ghana

African Transformers leading a beach cleanup exercise in Accra, Ghana

Studying at Ashesi University provided me with valuable skills and endless growth opportunities.  In my first year, we took a class in Foundation of Design and Entrepreneurship, a yearlong course aimed at training students to use design thinking to solve problems around them, and potentially create businesses out of those solutions. At the end of the class, I decided to continue with my group’s final project called African Transformers – a social initiative that encourages youth to protect the environment from plastic pollution in Ghana through recycling training. African Transformers won the $5000 Millennium Oceans Prize grant from Millennium Campus Network, which enabled the expansion of the project’s scope to include campaigns aimed at conserving the oceans. My commitment to environmental sustainability, led to an invitation selection to attend the Sustainable Oceans Alliance’s Youth Leadership Summit held in Oslo, Norway where I won the Our Ocean Solution Challenge, and was presented with the Champion Trophy by the Crown Prince of Norway. 

Lloyd Teta and team (posing with the Crown Prince of Norway) after winning the Our Ocean Solution Challenge in Oslo, Norway

Through Ashesi University, my team and I participated in the Map The System Competition organised by the University of Oxford and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. My team, African Transformers, explored the issue of poor plastic waste management in Accra, Ghana. Out of 3500 teams around the world, we made it to the 31 global finalists. After two days of presentations, my team and the other five teams were selected to the final round of the Global competition held on the 17 June 2020. 

To close the chapter on my Ashesi University experience, my final engineering project/dissertation   focused on the design and analysis of a low cost, deployable unmanned aerial vehicle/drones for an environmental surveillance system. This project will provide an alternative solution to African governments and drone companies to help catalyze the use of low-cost drones capable of flying for a longest time and covering large distance. This is vital for data collection purposes for environmental monitoring and combating the menace of illegal mining. 

Currently out of school, I look forward to the future with increased optimism as I am the cofounder of a startup that manufactures health service delivery drones. Starting in the fall of 2021, I will be pursuing a PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology where I hope to design environmentally sustainable air/space vehicles and focus my research on propulsion systems.

Being a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at Ashesi University was an experience of a lifetime. To current Scholars, my advice is to believe in yourself, step outside of your comfortable zone and take advantage of the available opportunities.