Nick Vasquez, the International Travel and Security Manager at the College of William and Mary visited the RAN Innovation lab on January 10th, 2017.  Nick is the International Travel and Security Manager for the College of William and Mary. He came to Uganda to improve his area familiarity to inform his work with students who travel to countries like Uganda, such as the College of William and Mary students on research visits. RAN has been working closely with AidData (HESN partner) summer fellows who come to Uganda for the 10 weeks summer internship which spans from June – August every year. For the past 3 years, both labs have jointly implemented GIS trainings and co-hosted successful GIS hackathon competitions engaging students, faculty, the community and other young entrepreneurs.

To continue building skills of interested individuals in GIS and also nurturing those that are developed during the short term period when summer fellows are in the country, one of the former summer fellows Ms. Laura Taylor started the Open Education Fellowship Program running for 12 weeks. It entails a fully-fledged program on GIS, project management, coding, business and sustainability. The RAN team has been a key partner in this initiative providing space and actively taking part in the weekly trainings.

Nick was very impressed to learn about these achievements by AidData and RAN. The team had interesting discussions with him including plans on how to grow and expand the collaboration. Some of the suggestions proposed included; broadening the geographical scope where summer fellows are placed and leveraging African countries where RAN has presence like Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and many more. Proposals also came in to explore exchange of students for instance when summer fellows come to Africa we could also nominate 1 or 2 students from RAN to visit the USA for internship. And last but not least the team also proposed that through AidData, RAN could connect to some of the multi-disciplinary departments at College of William and Mary and tap into some useful programs or even a pool of Mentors to further guide the innovators working on innovative solutions currently under incubation at RAN.