From Learning, to Teaching, to Soaring
ADDA graduate Memory Sadira reflects on her journey at the Academy and how it equipped her to launch a drone startup
Memory Sadira was born in Rumphi, a district of northern Malawi. Growing up near the mountains and forests, at an early age, she decided to study forestry at the Lilongwe College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. As a young graduate, she was especially passionate about forest conservation and management. She enrolled at the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) to explore how drone technology – especially mapping and image-making – could support conservationists and the forestry industry to manage indigenous forests, reserves, and industrial plantations sustainably.
At the ADDA, Memory learned about aerodynamics, geographic information systems, physics, flight performance, weather patterns, and how to design drones using 3D printers. She learned how to build prototypes using local materials such as cardboard and wood, making drone technology accessible and less susceptible to damage in remote forest regions. She was also exposed to the many entrepreneurial pathways for young people with this skill set.
Upon completing her certification at the ADDA, Memory was recruited as a National Instructor. Pivoting from her initial specialization in forestry, she is exploring a career as an educator and entrepreneur. Her combined studies at university and the ADDA equipped her to find local solutions to local problems. Importantly, she is a passionate conservationist and an advocate in schools in Lilongwe for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) subjects to be taken up by young people.
These days, when Memory is not teaching at the ADDA, she is working with her colleague and former classmate Moses Fuleya at their drone startup company, Wind Ride Aeros. Wind Ride Aeros provides drone consultancy, data, and training services to clients in the development and private sectors. The experience Memory gained at the academy laid a solid foundation for the startup and fostered confidence and trust with their first clients.
Memory's journey of learning and teaching at the ADDA is a true testament to the possibilities offered by STEM learning for young people around Malawi. As she continues her work at Wind Ride Aeros and the ADDA, Memory will undoubtedly inspire more young people to explore how technology and innovation can address some of the pressing problems in their communities.