Qasid Ahmad is the latest undergraduate to have scooped an internship with Enterprise Rent-A-Car as a result of entering the annual Real World Awards.
Qasid, a MechEng student at Swansea University, wowed judges with his inspiring work in the Gambia. He explained: ‘During my gap year I spent a year teaching in a school in the Gambia in Serekunda at Masroor Senior Secondary school which was run by an NGO called Humanity First. On returning from this gap year I wanted to research into technology that could work towards helping some of the problems associated with poverty. The majority of Gambians were small school subsistent farmers, which means that they grow a small quantity of crops, usually only for themselves and their families, and then sell excess produce in the market. One of the big problems the farmers had was storage. They would take produce to the market and it would go rotten within a few days.’
He added: ‘I was studying engineering and came across an interesting solution to this problem. It had been invented by a Nigerian lecturer called Muhhamed Bah Abba which was a simple adaptation of the traditional clay pot – used world wide for storing water. The idea is a simple one: one small clay pot placed in a larger one, with the space in between filled with wet sand to keep the items cool. As the water evaporated it would cool down the contents in the inner pot, similar to perspiration cooling down the body. The shelf life of vegetables could then be extended, so with this idea I approached Swansea University and I joined Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) [a non-profit organisation educating people on concepts like market economics, entrepreneurship through outreach projects] and set up this idea as a project to help Gambian farmers.’
So what made him want to enter the competition? ‘I was looking for a summer placement anyway, which was why I was going through Real World magazine,’ he told us. ‘I saw the article on the Real World Awards in the March edition, saying "Are you Enterprising?" and I thought it was an obvious place to start as I’d just come up with my Desert Fridge project.’ When he heard the news of his win he said he was ‘delighted’ and ‘very surprised’!
Details of the other inspiring finalists will be posted soon and in the autumn we will have a full report of the awards ceremony itself which takes place in September.