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Marine Engineering Students’ Gift to Traditional Fishermen!

For today’s Q&A we have translated an interview published last week in Haddas Eritrea. Upon noticing the papers presented by students of Eritrean colleges, it is easy to see that, Eritrean students are extremely devoted to their studies, exceptionally doting towards bringing change and development to their society. When students study with care longing to assist their society is praise worthy. Which is why today we’ll present you a group of marine engineering students in the Marine Science College of Massawa. Filmon Weldemariam, Tesfai Kiros, Mebrahtom Gheberezighiabiher, Abrahayo Asefaw and their female colleague Mikal Goitom, presented and manufactured an outstanding study and made a boat under the supervision of Eng. Zeraagabir Araya.

Enhancing traditional boats for traditional fishermen in the Eritrean Coastal line is the project they completed successfully.


  • -Give us please an idea of how your college works. What is exactly that you learn in the Dept. of Marine Engineering?

We learn so many things, of course. Marine engineering is a wide field of study. Generally speaking it is related to endeavors in water bodies. It includes navigation, constructing marine engines, building ships and more. These are some of the basic fields included in the bigger field of study of marine engineering.

  • -How was the idea for your paper raised?

Most of the ideas for Eritrean college students originate from day to day observations. Like things we would want to enhance and customize based on the needs and uses of our community. Speaking of our case, we had several papers of previous scholastic years which augmented the concretization of the initial outline for our case study. We agreed on enhancing the traditional boats commonly used by fishermen in Eritrean coastlines. There was a boat that was half built by former students in our school’s laboratory; it was never finished. We studied why it was not completed. For starters if we were to customize we understood the paramount need of detailed research and study. We had to gain intense knowledge of what we wanted to upgrade. After serious research and study, we took on building a computer software specifically for designing the envisioned boat. It was furthermore exciting because we decided to translate our project into tangible reality, out in our beautiful sea. We were thrilled to work in the sea we love so much, as students of the port city.

  • -How interesting was it?

From day one, up to the day we fully concluded our project, it was an interesting journey. The research we conducted was extremely enlightening. Every ethnic group in the Eritrean costal line follows different fishing methods. For example, the Afar imported the skeleton idea from neighboring countries. And speaking at grassroots level it takes a lot of time for traditions to change. So inanities from the fishermen are not that distinguished.

Moreover, developing a software for the design was intriguing, we looked for help from students and professionals of other colleges. Last but not least the wood work itself came with its difficulties. None of us had the closest inkling of wood work, and then again, we obtained help from professional youth that know the art and science of woodwork.

The project needed a lot of funding our college couldn’t grant, so we submitted an official request to RCC (Eritrea’s Resource Coordinating Center) and they assisted us financially. So our project became even more exciting because it included ideas and talents of different people: starting from the traditional fishermen to fellow students, professors and anyone else who willingly lent a helping hand.

  • -Technically speaking what does the boat look like?

We focused on modernity. And what modernity allocates is simplicity. The boat is light and long, while the overall design focused on its buoyant force and the boats hallow area which is a vital aspect as we’re talking about the weight the boat is able to carry. When we started implementing the design and moved to production that is when everything started making sense despite the technical difficulties we faced as we advanced. We first put up the skeleton of the boat, we then moved to installing the fiber glass parts of the boat. We chose to use fiber glass because it’s light and durable. And from there we took on every single step of the procedure until its completion.

  • -What were some of the challenges you faced?

Well, it all started at the very beginning. When we presented the project proposal our college’s administration didn’t quite approve the idea. Maybe they considered the financial demands, but they didn’t approve it anyway. However we still went on with the idea seeking help from entities that we thought could be potential contributors both financially and logistically. As we explained earlier we had our problems for the software programming and the wood work part, but we received help from willing young professionals.

  • -What encouraged you most to keep going with a project that didn’t seem attainable by college students?

The time we presented our project to the school, which is open to the public, heartened us to see the project through despite possible complications. The reaction from the audience was incredible, and that was our “go ahead what so ever” sign. Honestly speaking, people’s encouragement poured even more vigorously after the presentation during production time; it showed the help we received from several entities.

  • -Would you build a bigger boat now?

Why not? It is part of our future plan. Now we know the science behind traditional boats and how they are built in accordance with indigenous knowledge about the sea. Biger or small, the size doesn’t matter. The construction material might differ when talking about boats of bigger size but we will do our best to make ourselves and knowledge available to our society.

  • -I want to give you a chance to pass on your greetings before we end.

First and foremost, many thanks to Eng. Zeraagabir Araya for his devoted supervision of our project. Secondly, greetings to everyone who took part in our endeavor as well as the public that showed great interest in our project! Last but not least, much love to everyone in the College of Marine Sciences Massawa!

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