From Mahikeng to Space Physics

Cool people in STEM Fields

Since I’ve given my blog a revamp in December 2017, I’ve been meeting some really cool South Africans that work and operate in STEM (Science Tech Engineering Math) fields.  One such person is Olorato Mosiane.

We met while attending some Mindstorms EV3 training at Hands on Technologies.  Olorato is a man of many talents and big ambitions – here is…

Who is Olorato Mosiane?

Olorato Mosiane - National Astrophysics and Space Science Program (NASSP)

Q1: Where did you grow up?

A1: I am from Mahikeng and I did my grade 12 equivalent at the International School of South Africa.

Q2: You told me you studied space physics/science at UCT.  What made you decide to study such a unique field?

A2: Yes, I did my honours in Space Physics at UCT.  When it was time to make the decision, one of my lecturers told me that taking this course will be computational adventurous.  Once he said that – I decided to take it on.

Comment: Space physics is the study of plasmas as they occur naturally in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and within the Solar System

Hands on Technologies

Hands on Technologies

Q3: You and I attended some training at Hands On Tech and you certainly know how to program – when did you start learning how to program?

A3: Doing my undergrad I was studying computer science and that’s where I learnt how to program.

I heard about Hands-on Tech from my uncle.  He had a business meeting around their building and decided to walk into Hands-on Tech to find out more.

My uncle felt they didn’t think that I would take an interest in what they do, but I did.  I gravitated towards the idea of teaching kids to code by means of robotics.

Q4: Do you think robotics training/education at school level is a must and why or why not?

A4: I think robotics training is very important because it basically shows children a practical use of Maths and Science.

To be honest science is very abstract at a young age so having practical examples and actually showing and demonstrating and giving tangible use cases helps a lot in guiding children into this field.

Automation and Machine Learning

Q5: What is your opinion on Automation and machine learning’s impact on the future of employment?

A5: Technology will always be moving forward so automation and machine learning will definitely impact the future.  Especially employment but there’s not much we can do about it to be honest because the future will move with or without you whether you like it or not.

What we need to do is find out other ways to make new kinds of jobs.  By the way technology will make new kinds of jobs and new sets of skills will be needed for these particular jobs. 

“Automation and machine learning will also help us with the idea which is called the universal basic income.”

Failure of the Education System

Q6: Where does the education system fail our youth? Or rather, what are the basic things that the education system need to improve on? STEM/STEAM and 21st century education is a big topic of discussion around the world at the moment – what is our education missing?

A6: I can’t really speak for other subjects other than scientific ones.  I think it fails in these subjects because I feel as if people are trying to force science on to the young people.  This results in a lot of people going to university to studying science but they don’t have a real sense of what science can do for them.

I honestly have no idea on what can be done to improve this.  I think some the scientific minds of our country need to get together – maybe we can even solve this problem scientifically.  Come up with new ways to teach, show and possibly demonstrate the full potential science gives a person.

Implementing Artificial Intelligence

Q7: If I recall correctly Danie (from Hands-on Tech) mentioned something about you implementing AI – tell us a little more about that.

A7: I’m using machine learning to trade on the financial markets.  The idea is to one day create a cryptocurrency which is based on the algorithm winning on the financial markets.  I think this is a very different approach and to be honest, from a scientific point of view, a very ambitious one. 

Q8: What projects are you currently working on and why are they important to you?

A8: There are so many projects that I’m currently working on.  The one I mentioned in the previous question about using machine learning to predict stock markets and the other would be my Masters project.

My masters project is using machine learning to detect radio frequency interference in radio astronomy data.

The other thing I am doing, which is not really a project, is basically me teaching myself some blockchain Technology so that I can know how to implement it in the future.

Transparency of Information

Q9: We spoke about how it is difficult to find information on SA companies that do R&D or even work in the Science space – where can people find out more?

A9: To be honest that is also something I struggle with.  I mostly Google it and because I’m currently doing my Masters, it would be great to have access to such information.  I enjoyed to hear you talking about some of things that are happening in the country for instance.

Comment: we spoke about CSIR and some of the robotics and automation projects I know of.

In South Africa a lot of the scientific achievements that have been accomplished are not known by the general public.  It seems you have to be inside the science circles to really learn about them or even know some of the projects that are currently being worked on!

Thank you Olorato!

I really enjoyed this interview and I appreciate the time you took to answer my questions.  I will certainly do a little more research about Space Physics – I hope more young people will be inspired by your efforts.


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