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Professors awarded grant money to impact education in Rwanda

By Fran Broderick

Assistant professor Brian Tomaszewski and associate professor Tony Vodacek have been named recipients of a Rwanda Innovation for Education grant, and will travel to the African nation this Friday for the first of many trips intended to aid education efforts in the region. Tomaszewski and Vodacek were recently awarded $474,780 by the Department for International Development (DFID), a branch of England’s Ministry of Education. The program, which is part of a partnership between the governments of Rwanda and the United Kingdom, has stated its goal of “ensuring girls and boys complete basic education [in Rwanda]” and has tasked the research team with studying how the process of innovation impacts education.

The professors plan to teach spatial thinking to students through a variety of means including environmental mapping projects. Tomaszewski explains, “students will be given tablets to map natural resources in their area while learning more about those resources." Over the course of 26 months the research team aims to not only improve education but also better understand how to more effectively help Rwandan students.

Friday will mark the team’s first trip to the region following the securing of funding.  26 projects, totaling more than $11 million in grant money were funded through the Rwanda Innovation for Education portfolio.

In addition, Tomaszewski has been active at the Golisano College where he has recently launched the Center for Geographic and Spatial Information Science and Technology (CGSIST) with the goal of developing more Geographic Information Systems (GIS) educational offerings and applied research at RIT. RIT has recently been certified as an Esri Development Center, a recognition that indicates “special status for university departments that have exemplary programs focused on educating students to design and develop GIS applications using Esri’s ArcGIS.”