First female astronaut, Claudie Haigneré to chair DStv Eutelsat Star Awards

Claudie Haignere
Nearly 6,000 secondary school students have entered the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards competition since it was established by Eutelsat and MultiChoice Africa in 2011. The sixth editionshows sustained interest fromAfrican learners aged 14 to 19, adding fresh impetus to the mission shared by MultiChoice and Eutelsat to encourage young minds to positively change their world via innovative thinking in science and technology.
Claudie Haignere

The essay, poster winners and runners-up of this year’s edition will be revealed at a ceremony to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on7 February.

A former astronaut and French Minister, now special advisor to European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director General, Claudie Haigneré has accepted to chair the prestigious Jury of the DStvEutelsat Star Awards. It is the first time a woman takes on this assignment, acting as a strong incentive for students dreaming big, especially young women, to live up to their full potential.
Claudie Haigneré will preside over an international panel of skilled industry experts, alongside government and academic world members: Ronke Bello, CEO at Innovative Technology Literacy Services Ltd (Nigeria), Rodney Benn, Regional Director for Africa at Eutelsat, Melt Loubser, GM: Broadcast Technology MultiChoice Africa, Elizabeth Ohene, journalist and former Minister of State to the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (Ghana), Prof.
Stephen Simukanga, Former University of Zambia Chancellor and now Director General of the Higher Education Authority, John Ugbe, Managing Director: MultiChoice Nigeria and Jenerali Ulimwengu, well known writer, columnist and lawyer (Tanzania).
Now special advisor to ESA’s Director General, Claudie Haigneré began her career in the medical field as a renowned rheumatologist and researcher in biomechanics and physiology of movement. After a PhD thesis in neurology, she joined the European astronaut programme and flew on Russia’s Mir space station for 16 days in 1996. In 2001, she went back into space and was the first European woman to fly on the ISS (International Space Station). From 2002 to 2004, she was Minister delegate for Research and New Technologies in the French government, and became Minister delegate for European Affairs the following year.
Since then she has also been an administrator of Universcience (representing the Palais de la Découverte and the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie in Paris), in addition to her activities for ESA.
Jury decision
High-standards of accuracy, creativity, originality and innovation will guide the jury’s decision on the best essay and poster. This year’s topic pushed students to envision the role played by satellite technology in the Africa of the future.
The academic and career paths of previous winners prove thatembracing science and technology fields is a source of inspiration that canunlock opportunities for Africa. To name a few, 2014 Zimbabwean essay winner Joseph Mahiya is currently enrolled in a programme run by the Mastercard Foundation.
The scholarship isfor an undergraduate degreein Computer Science with Software Engineering as well as Electrical Engineeringstarting August 2017at West Virginia University in the USA. Eva Chemgorem, the 2012 poster winner is studying for a Bachelor of Science in Economics at Daystar University, Nairobi and will soon pursue a minor in International Relations. She hopes to use her education to shape policy and economic development in Kenya and the rest of world.
Next winners to be revealed on 7 February!
In 2010 MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat combined their expertise to initiate an annual pan-African student competition called the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards. The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards encourages 14-19 year-old students to write an essay or design a poster on a satellite-related topic. Country winners from across Africa then compete in the overall awards for a trip to the Eutelsat facilities in Paris, with the essay winner travelling onwards to witness a live rocket launch.
Runners-up win a trip to South Africa as guests of MultiChoice Africa and the South African National Space Agency at Hartebeesthoek. Schools attended by the overall winners also receive a DStv installation, including dish, television, state-of-the-art PVR decoder and free access to the DStv Education Bouquet. Winners at national levels win prizes such as computers or tablets.