My Summer Internship at Mota Engil in Rwanda

Aug 13, 2018 – This summer one of our students, Zandile Sibandze , also known as Pepe from Swaziland studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University spent two months in Rwanda interning for Mota Engil, an engineering company that works all over Africa. Read about her experience below:

Coming to Mota Engil (ME) in Rwanda, I did not know what to expect. I had been told that the company’s employees barely understand English because they were either Rwandans or Portuguese. In my head, I thought, more than the job itself, the main challenge throughout my internship would be to try to fit into this community. Not only that, but ME is also a construction company, and I knew that aerospace engineering has less in common with civil work and landscape engineering.

However, after two months of interning at ME, I do not regret my choice of coming here. The people I worked with were extremely friendly and welcoming. It was not just the people I worked with in my office, but also the electric engineering office, people in other departments, and even the upper-level management. When ME says they are a family company, you do not have to ask what they mean. I felt like I was at home here. Although it was a new experience for me, I was able to gain experience in data handling, writing and reviewing reports, as well as calculating the quantities of materials needed for constructing various structures at the airport. I had an opportunity to learn how to use new architectural interfaces like RAVIT and CAD. I used those platforms for calculating the material quantities and checking what particular materials should be used. I had to keep track of where thousands of files, including emails, pieces of evidence, meeting minutes, or drawings, came from, the dates, statuses, and all any other relevant information. At first I was overwhelmed, but after reviving my excel skills with the help of my supervisor, everything became easier.

When it came to life outside of work, it was fun. I travelled with my coworkers to a lot of places in Rwanda, mostly for tasting the local food, site-seeing, finding souvenirs, and just hanging out. Working every week from Monday to Saturday, 7 am to 6 pm, was exhausting, so we needed the laughter and moments of wandering around doing nothing. Every evening after work, I would run. By participating in sports, I was able to connect with the Rwandan community. One of my highlights was to meet with the Rwandan girls national soccer team. We talked about the companionship between sports and education and how that could mitigate unemployment, crime, dependency, and many socioeconomic problems in Africa.

This exposure did not simply equip me with the skills I need for school. It left me thinking about a lot of things that I have developed a high level of interest in, including the value of human investment. As I will be returning to school this fall, I will bring with me a full understanding that being one of the few aerospace engineering students in Swaziland, I have a responsibility to attract more people into this field. Otherwise, whatever change that I may try to bring will not be significant if I do not have a team of people who understand the importance of my investment from a personal and experience point of view. I am also very excited for school to start back up. I imagine that most of my design classes will be easier to understand with all these design skills I have secured here. Because of my experience and the knowledge that I gained at my internship with Mota Engil, I am very much appreciative.