Fostering an appreciation for science and STEM-related subjects among future generations is a worldwide challenge. Since 2010, the African School of Fundamental Physics has been improving the quality of science education in Africa by increasing the number of students from across the continent who pursue higher education.
Hosted every two years by a different African country, ASP brings together 60-80 African students with math, physics, engineering or computing training for a summer program of lectures, tutorials, hands-on exercises and workshops. The group also hosts related activities, such as teacher workshops on motivating students; physics conferences to boost African and international research institution participation; and forums for open discussions among researchers, teachers, policymakers and industry.
After each biennial session, ASP’s international organizing committee also manages a mentoring and coaching program for alumni that works with their academic advisors to maximize long-term impact. Together, the group’s efforts have created an international collaborative network of African and international researchers that current and former students can tap into to advance their interests and careers in science.
“Over the past 12 years, ASP has successfully carried out its mission to increase capacity development in fundamental physics and related applications in Africa,” said Fermilab Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sandra Charles. “That success is due in part to international lecturers and participants from Fermilab and elsewhere who selflessly volunteer their time to give talks, teach courses and mentor students.”
To date, representatives from Fermilab and other national labs have spoken at ASP events and served on its International Advisory Committee–all remotely since COVID-19. “There are many ways we can show support for ASP, from teaching a course to helping them build connections to the international physics community,” said Kavin Ammigan, a senior engineer in the Target Systems Department.
Serving as a mentor is another way scientists and engineers can get involved and show support. “ASP graduates are eager to learn about our work and expertise and see how the subjects they’ve learned about get put into practice,” Ammigan said. “Think how valuable that kind of experience would have been to all of us early in our careers.”
Anyone interested in learning more about ASP can visit the organization’s website or contact Kavin Ammigan or Cortez L. Watkins. If you’re ready to participate, the Fermilab ASP page has more details and a form to sign up to be part of the program.