SHE IS ON HER WAY TO BECOMING AN EXPERT IN BIG DATA SCIENCE - SPATIAL MAPPING
Meet Stella Mutai – A Geographic Information System and Earth Observation Analytics Consultant, United Nations
“Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) enabled me to develop holistically. I received mentorship from my lecturers; their counsel, teaching, passion and dedication molded me to who I am. The extracurricular activities such as serving in various leadership positions and interacting with the students and staff made me appreciate multicultural diversity and why it’s important to be all rounded. The foundation, exposure, education and the culture inculcated in me at DeKUT made my transition to the market so easy. The uninterrupted learning and timely completion of my studies was so good for me as I was able to accomplish a part of my dreams early enough”- Stella Mutai
Cool, calm and collected are some of the words one can use to describe Stella Mutai on the surface but when you look deeper, you find an impressive level of determination and wit. This is what has contributed to the milestones she has made so far; just 4 years after completing her 1st degree in Geospatial Information Science (GIS) here at DeKUT.
After graduating in April 2016, Stella was awarded a NUFFIC Full Scholarship in the year 2017/2018 to pursue Masters in Geoinformatics and Earth Observation at the University of Twente, Netherlands and in March 2019, she was awarded her 2nd degree certificate. She is currently working as a Geographic Information System and Earth Observation Analytics consultant for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) within the United Nations. At the United Nations, Stella’s main duties involve coordinating with IFAD project teams to access and manage projects’ GIS data and undertake data quality assurance activities required by and related to scaling up the systematic integration of GIS Monitoring and Evaluation of IFAD Operations and developing methodologies on geo-referencing indicators for IFAD projects in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Brazil and many other countries. As she continues to diligently perform her duties, she hopes that in the next five years she can be an expert in big data science, more specifically spatial mapping, in order to contribute to the sustainable development goals; “to promote the use of earth observation in the development of in-season semi-automated baseline datasets derived from scalable machine learning tools and open data, both of which are needed for more accurate agriculture monitoring promoting food security and energy sustainability in Africa”- explains Stella.
In addition to Stella’s academic achievement so far, one of her greatest achievement is being awarded a winning poster award in thematic areas of land administration and management, land use and land cover in the 3rd Regional center for mapping resource development (RCMRD) International conference and 4th Afrigeo symposium on “Earth Observation for Evidence Based Decision Making” held in August, 2019. What inspires her is to see young women being empowered especially in the science field and therefore, she is an active mentor of younger women and considers being part of the Africa Women in Energy Development Initiative (AWEDI Network) as a volunteer programs and database officer as one of her major milestones. Stella says that this opportunity has empowered her to understand the importance of women in Africa collaborating to ensure women are empowered and the young ladies are mentored. She further adds that joining the African Women in GIS has enabled her to mentor young girls and be an inspiration as she also gets mentored by the pioneers. “During my undergraduate studies, I was one of the few girls studying GIS; in my class we only had 5 ladies and 42 men. The gender balance is still a big factor, especially in Africa. Geospatial is still a growing field in Africa; not many people understand it. Our immediate challenge is trying to make the society understand the impact of geospatial, especially with regard to the sustainable development goals” – she reminisces as she reiterates on the importance of empowering women and encouraging young ladies to venture into the Geospatial field and STEM in general.
While Stella thanks the Institute of Geomatics, GIS and Remote Sensing (IGGRES) here at the University, DeKUT chaplaincy and the entire fraternity for their mentorship, guidance and passion to see her life and the lives of her fellow comrades as young people become better, we applaud her for taking deliberate steps in applying the knowledge and mentorship given to her to not only make her life better but also, those of others by contributing to sustainable development and social well being.