Week 9: Finals Week

Week 9

Finals week, oh finals week. After getting back to Ashesi, Mark and I were ready for a busy week helping the students with their final projects. Last year’s intro to engineering project was developing a solar charger for phones or computers. This year set its sights a little higher on a miniature solar irrigation system. The project hoped to bring together all the class material covered this summer and use equal parts electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering. Mark and I were thrilled with the project and were excited to see how the students would execute. On Monday, as we arrived in the workshop, we were surprised by the work already completed by each of the groups. Many groups assured us their code was finished and the housing for the system was already taking form as well. We were shocked that the students weren’t waiting until the night before the project was due to really get work done. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. While it appeared that most of the work was done early in the week, as the week dragged on no groups were finished with the project. And so, Thursday night, before demonstrations on Friday, there were, as could be expected, many students working into the wee hours of the morning to finish up. Apparently, college students are just about the same wherever you are. Friday morning we were able to attend the students’ presentations and saw them demonstrate their systems. Despite the last minute scramble, nearly every group had a working system on Friday and we were impressed.

While it was nice to see the students finish up their projects successfully, finals week also meant most of our friends were leaving. The first to leave was our favorite Swedish professor Bengt and his wife, Brittis. Having joined Bengt and Brittis for many adventures during the summer, we were sad to be parting ways. On Bengt’s last day, Mark and I took a break from the workshop to enjoy one last fika, a Swedish traditional coffee break. After fika we wished them safe travels and made tentative plans for the Ghana Guys to go to Sweden for a visit filled with fika and sour herring.

The next goodbye was with Dr. Fred who’s actually traveling to the US next week. Friday morning, we took a moment before presentations to meet up and reflect on the summer. Since Mark and I are the first students from UD to come to Ashesi, we talked about what went well with the experience and what could be improved for future immersions. After getting business out of the way, we talked briefly about futures, both ours and Ashesi’s. As Fred talked about what he envisioned for Ashesi, I was touched by his concern for his students beyond their time in school. Not being content with just producing good engineers, Fred is determined to give them opportunities to innovate and create their own jobs in order to make a difference in the world. His vision for change has continued to inspire us and open our minds to the possibilities. Thanks for an amazing experience Dr. Fred!

After finals were over, Mark and I took off to Accra for one last hurrah with our hostel friends from this summer. But, before we went to the hostel, we decided to check out a microbrewery Mark discovered last week. Inland Microbrewery is Ghana’s first microbrewery and is owned and operated by Clement Djameh. After a bit of confusion on locating the microbrewery (can’t wait to get back to actual addresses), Clement picked us up in Atomic and took us to the brewery. At the brewery, he explained a bit about his research on using sorghum as a substitute for barley in the brewing process. Sorghum is a grain more common to harsher climates, such as that of West Africa. He said his ultimate goal in brewing with sorghum was to alleviate poverty by increasing the demand for sorghum and improving the lives of those who farm it. Next, Clement walked us through the brewing processes and explained all of the equipment he was using.

After the tour, he poured us a glass of the lager he was brewing and we sat down and chatted. He told us more about his studies in Germany, including the first test in order to become a brewmaster. The school believed that brewmasters needed to be able to still behave like a gentleman no matter how much beer he or she had had. Clement’s test turned out to be drinking a few liters of beer before having to ride a seatless bicycle, 6 km from the nearby town to the university. He passed and the rest is history. He also told us about his daughter who had just graduated from Penn State with a degree in energy engineering and was looking for some work in energy auditing in the US to gain experience before returning to Ghana. Mark and I laughed as we told him of our experiences with energy auditing and promised to check in with our contacts to see if we could find anything for her. After talking for a while, we told Clement we needed to head to the hostel if he could give us a ride to the main road so we could get a tro-tro. Instead, Clement closed up the brewery and took us about halfway to the hostel before we hopped in a tro.

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We met up with our friends at the hostel before heading out to a night of dancing at a few clubs in Osu. The next morning after sleeping in, we grabbed a bite to eat with Mem and Tabea, our friends from the first weekend in Osu. After lunch, we parted ways with a tough goodbye, sad to see each other go, but grateful for getting to know one another throughout the summer.

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It was a tough week of goodbyes, but a nice hello with Clement. We have one week left to finish up our work before we head on our quick trip to London and Dublin.

Let’s do it Week 10!

– Ghana Guys

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