A 24-years-old Electronics and Telecoms Engineer Sophia Abeid has defied the odds and come up with an innovative solution that uses Radio Frequency Identifier to track missing hard copy files.
And there is more she does to mentor young girls with an aim of providing an accelerated career path in engineering field.
At the age of 13 years, she already knew which career path she wanted to take. Despite some discouraging noises from her friends that science field is the male domain; Sophia was determined to take a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Today, Sophia, a graduate of college of Engineering and Technology of the St Joseph University in Tanzania, is a young innovator who is passionate about the STEM field.
Determined to pursue what she wanted in her life, Sophia was selected among this year winners of Malkia wa Nguvu contest organised by Clouds Media Group, that aims at recognizing efforts done by women in their communities.
After she scooped the award in the under Science and Technology category, Sophia had to dedicate her time and effort in uplifting other young girls in her community.
“I understand the importance of speaking about life and words of encouragement to young girls who have dreams. When these dreams are nurtured well, they can definitely reach their desired goals,” says Sophia.
“I have managed to do that by leading a mentorship program as a Director of Ambassador for a mentorship program for undergraduate students called ‘Golden Girls Mentorship Program’. We have managed to link undergraduate students/ mentees to high profile mentors in our country who have excelled in different fields of their careers,” she explains.
Currently, Sophia is working with Vodacom Tanzania as a Network graduate Engineer. The program she is working for aims at providing an accelerated career path in engineering, her field of study.
Sophia is the Co-Founder of Blueprint Innovations, a company that provides digital solutions. Together with her team members, they managed to come up with an innovative digital solution product called “File Tracking System”.
Sophia scooped the winning points from her “File Tracking System” idea, which she came up with after her grandfather had lost ownership of a piece of a land due to misplaced documents. “He misplaced those important documents and he lost the land, a battle that we are still fighting today to settle the matter and regain what was his,” she says.
According to her, the File Tracking System is a software with hardware devise that helps an organization to monitor and locate hardcopy documents inside and outside the organization premises by using Google maps application.
“In real time, you are able to know the exactly location of any file of your organization by using the software we created. The software will show where the file is, know who took it, and if the file is/has been returned. In case the file has not been returned, the software is able to start track and locate that particular file because in each file a Radio Frequency Identifier as well as GPS tracker for the sake of knowing the exact location of that particular file,” she explains.
According to Sophia, it was during her final year of studies at the university when her fellow co-founders of Blueprint Innovations Company, Salum Salum and Ghaniya Hamad learnt of the problem facing the ministry of land in locating and monitoring file. “It was during Saba Saba Trade Fair when she visited at the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlement Development pavilion and learnt that the ministry was lacking a proper system of locating and monitoring hard copy files, leading to misplacing and losing important documents. Therefore, we formed a team to find out the solution,” she says.
Sophia agrees that locating files is one of the greatest problems in many institutions, particularly in public institutions. “It is very easy to misplace files while at the same time it consumes a lot of time in searching for files manually,” she argues, saying File Tracking System presents a solution to such problems by tracking the movement of files from one office to the other.
Before dispatching the hard copy files, the documents have to be maintained in a soft copy form to avoid a complete loss of the files.
“I have created a system of tracking the files using Radio Frequency Identifier (RFID) technology, which will also be linked to the proposed system’s software, for monitoring the movement of files within/outside the organization. This will provide an environment where the user can track the whole life cycle of the movement of the files by using Global Positioning System/General Packet Radio Services (GPS/GPRS) tag, which is the common approach method to get the location or information in a real time. The coin size GPS Tracker is used in this product for the tracking. It is directly linked to Google Maps application which shows the real time location of a particular file,” she explains.
According to her, the digital system eliminates manual operations of file management and monitoring as it makes the file tracking and management processes easier.
Last year, Sophia emerged a winner at a Youth Competition Video, which was organized by ROSATOM, a Russian State Atomic energy corporation.
Contestants in the competition were asked to showcase the use of nuclear energy in Africa. According to her youth from different parts of the continent took part in the competition.
“I also participated in a ‘youth competition video’ organized by Russian State Atomic energy co-operation “ROSATOM”. My team and I were emerged the winners among contestants from various African countries that participated. We secured a fully-funded trip to Russia in November 2018, where we had a learning tour to the Russian Nuclear Facilities and Landmarks. It is all by God’s grace,” she says.
Sophia says the important of that trip was to educate them about the important of the nuclear energy and how it can be used to benefit Africa. “Some countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa have already started using nuclear energy for various purposes like to improve livestock productivity as well as improving rice and barley production through mutation, radiotherapy in hospitals as well as sterilize harmful insects to crops,” she says.
“We were happy to visit the first nuclear power plant at Moscow and we went to visit some universities like Tomsk Polytechnic, National Research Nuclear and Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhl), which offers courses in nuclear science,” says Sophia.
Sophia has pocketed several awards and recognitions in past years. She took the first place out of 300 projects at the TAN TECH 2018 exhibition, which was organized by St. Joseph University’s College of Engineering and Technology.
“The exhibitions showcased projects that were done by final year students in order to get the best innovative project of the year. We showcased our project in TAN TECH 2018 and won the competition,” she explains.
Sophia is also the youngest woman to receive an award by Next Einstein Forum during the Africa Science week (Tanzania) in the year 2018 for the women emerging in STEM. According to her, the forum aims at promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “Last year, they awarded women who are emerging in the science field and I was one of them. I was the youngest of all awardees,” she says.
Apart from all what Sophia and her team have achieved, they still face a lot of challenge. According to her, the biggest challenge so far has been to secure funding to bring File Tracking System to the market.
“I have a strong passion to help my country. I’m optimistic that the digital solution for file tracking system will solve one of the biggest problems in our organisations as well as to individuals. People have lost title deeds, hence lost the ownership of their land and finally barred from their houses,” she says.
“Sometimes we have been witnessing long queues at various institutions due to lack of proper file management system. So the moment I get funding I’m confident that my product will make it to the market,” says Sophia, who apart from her love for science and the digital world, she also enjoys cooking. She has already ventured into food business with her Afifi’s Kitchen.