Miss. Moreblessings Shoko, a lecturer in the department of Surveying and Geomatics (Faculty of Science and Technology) was selected as the 2017 winner of the Marina van Damme Award. The Marina Van Damme award is an annual award for exceptional and promising female engineers who are part of the Netherlands alumni. It is financed from a Fund set up under the University of Twente Funds . This particular award is in the name of Dr Marina van Damme, who became the first engineer to obtain a doctoral degree from what was then the ‘Twente Technical College’, in June 1965 at the University of Twente .This is the fifteenth time this annual award has been granted to an outstanding and ambitious alumna, in support of her professional development. This is however the first time the award is granted to an alumna from Africa and it is a great privilege that she was selected . Ms Shoko traveled to the Netherlands to receive this award on the 13th of June 2017 on Entrepreneurial Day at The University of Twente. 

In the presentation speech before presenting the award the Board Member mentioned that Ms Shoko was selected for her efforts in wanting to strengthen the position of women in Zimbabwe, by giving them the opportunity to pursue full-time education. One particular problem she addresses is that girls often miss a quarter of their time at school, due to their monthly period. Ms Shoko wants to prevent such setbacks by developing new, reusable and hygienic sanitary towels and then using drones to aid their distribution in remote areas. This drone-based distribution system seeks to reach the remotest corners of the country. She also wants to use these drones to gather geo-information for further scientific research, and for practical applications in agriculture and industry.The video below summarises the project Ms Shoko will be conducting on the use of drones in distributing reusable sanitary pads.

After carefully considering the matter, the jury unanimously decided to select Ms Shoko as the 2017 winner . The jury was impressed by her talent, achievements, her ambition and her dream. The award consists of a trophy and a monetary prize.  Ms Shoko will use this money to undergo drone flight training, and to buy her first drone and also add drone technology to the Geomatics curriculum at MSU. Staff at the University of Twente will also collaborate with Shoko and provide support for the successful completion of the project.


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