The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has awarded a 2021-22 international fellowship to Civian Massa, a Spaulding-Smith Fellow pursuing her PhD in electrical and computer engineering. Recipients will pursue academic work and lead innovative community projects to empower women and girls. AAUW is one of the world’s oldest leading supporters of graduate women’s education.
Prior to starting a PhD, Civian earned a BS degree in Electrical Power Systems Engineering from the African Leadership University and Glasgow Caledonian University. Broadly, her current research focuses on energy poverty and data mining to improve electricity provision services in Africa. She also works as a graduate research assistant for STIMA lab (Systems Towards Infrastructure Measurement and Analytics) at UMass Amherst under the supervision of Professor Jay Taneja.
Civian grew up in a rural area in Cameroon with limited access to electricity which caused them to resort to the use of kerosene tin lamps as a source of lighting on most occasions. The scarcity and the cost of this lamp oil (kerosene) made them to go for many days without lighting and this affected her studies because that meant she could only study during the daytime. Civian learned the basics of electricity in high school and realized that Cameroon had the potential to supply reliable electricity to everyone including her village but lacked an effective energy policy framework and infrastructure capacity. It was then that she became curious about the energy sector and wanted to understand the challenges on a deeper level with the hope of providing a future solution to the energy access disparity in rural villages in Cameroon and sub-Saharan Africa.