In the mid 2000’s SOLIDWORKS began working closely with the Ministry of Education in Rwanda and entered into an agreement in which it began supporting the technical secondary schools and colleges in the country. In addition to providing software and training materials, several delegations from SOLIDWORKS have made the long journey to Rwanda to participate in training and educational events.
In October of 2014 I had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda during which I spent seven days training teachers and students on how to use SOLIDWORKS. I will admit I was a bit unsure of what I would discover in Rwanda having never travelled to the African continent before. On the first day in the country, I quickly realized just how fortunate I was to be there and to witness first-hand how much of an impact we as a company are making there.
Each day began with a long car ride through the beautiful country where the spirit and liveliness of the Rwandan people was on full display. That trip ended each morning in a class room filled with smiling and friendly young people eager to learn whatever I was willing to teach them. We modeled all sorts of basic shapes and soon enough the students were exploring all the different parts of SOLIDWORKS to see what they could create. The days were long and hot, and the 24+ hours of plane rides there and back weren’t much fun, but as soon as I left, I was already hoping I would be able to go back. I had been truly inspired by how much enthusiasm they had.
So in early 2016 when I was invited to go back, I was inspired to make an even bigger impact. So this time we teamed up with a couple of SOLIDWORKS customers, Robo3D and Sindoh, who were both generous enough to donate some 3D printers to the schools. Both of these customers stepped up and provided a total of eight 3D printers to the schools in Rwanda.
Each day when we started the printers up and let the students play with the parts that they created in SOLIDWORKS, you could see that their imaginations were taking off and envisioning what they could make. We had given them the tools to take their ideas, create them in SOLIDWORKS and then print those designs so they could actually touch them. Once again I was inspired by these students.
It’s easy for a company to travel to some place, hang some banners, install some software, take a few pictures, tweet them out, and then say “hey, look how great we are.” But it’s a completely different thing to actually commit to helping to make a difference in the lives of people for the long run. The commitment that SOLIDWORKS has shown to the people of Rwanda for over a decade is not only inspiring as an employee of SOLIDWORKS, it’s also inspiring as a human being. I hope that you will take a few minutes to watch the following video so you can see first-hand the amazing “emotional paycheck” we all get as a result of our work with the amazing students here in Rwanda.