Drones to Empower Young Women
ADDA graduate Deborah Duwa Mtambalika advocates for STEM education, enabling young women to see themselves as tech leaders
Growing up in Malawi's Thyolo District, Deborah always knew she would pursue a career in the sciences after secondary school. While enrolled at the Lilongwe Natural Resources College, she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Resource Management. There, she began to develop her knowledge of geospatial data analysis and drone technology.
Upon graduation, Deborah was quickly recruited by UNICEF. She gained work experience in humanitarian responses and land resource management, working on a cholera intervention as a geospatial data officer. These experiences stoked a growing curiosity in the use of drones – especially for the delivery of medical supplies and boosting agricultural production. Taking her combined experiences at university and work with UNICEF, Deborah joined the African Drone and Data Academy to expand her skillset in aerospace engineering. Studying at the ADDA allowed her to understand aircraft design, programming software, international regulations, integrating Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and venturing into entrepreneurship. Since graduating, she has taken these skills back to her community. As a pioneer member of Youth for Environment, a grassroots youth engagement initiative in Lilongwe District, she's been piloting drones for agriculture, farming, health and emergency preparedness and encouraging other young people to explore innovation and technology to solve local problems.
Alongside her work and volunteering, Deborah also advocates for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education among African youth, with a particular focus on empowering girls and young women to see themselves as leaders in the field of drone technology. Deborah sees a pressing need to introduce these emerging technologies and innovations to children at an early age; she conducts regular outreach and organizes drone demonstrations for young students to ensure that they're inspired, prepared for and able to benefit equally from rapid technological growth around the world. Deborah firmly believes drones offer a unique platform for addressing some of Malawi's most pressing issues. She is passionate about helping bring these solutions to life by developing and investing in local expertise.
Today, Deborah is a drone pilot and project manager at Wingcopter. This drone company delivers urgently needed medical supplies across rural Malawi, especially when the terrain becomes challenging or impassable during the rainy season. Whether transporting medicines, lab samples, or mapping floods, Deborah is working to streamline humanitarian health and environmental conservation programs using innovative data solutions and drone technology. Deborah continues to develop her skills and expertise in technology and data analytics to towards global health and conservation programs.