Tuesday, June 2nd 2015
Prof. Gregg Zachary,Arizona State University
Title: The CS development dividend: how one African university gave rise to a research cluster
Computer science is a relatively democratic, open and international activity. Unlike molecular biology, astrophysics or materials science, which all requirecostly equipment and esoteric tools in order to achieve world-class results, CS can be conducted at a high international standard on a small budget, bysmall groups and in diverse locations. For developing countries with limited resources to invest in scientists and scientific research, CS offers a path towards a home-grown scientific community that both can serve to reverse “brain drain,” or the outflow of highly educated people, and can contribute to domestic innovation and tech-based industries. While sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a vast increase in Internet activity and computing power in the past 20 years, the acidity computer science – especially in research and the production of PhDs. – has proved more difficult. Most African countries continue to produce very few PhD. computer scientists, and those they do produce often receive their training in Europe or the U.S, where they often remain for many years. The East African country of Uganda is an exception to this doleful pattern. Makerere University, Uganda’s top university, only began supporting graduate education in CS in the early 2000s. Today, Makerere’s computer science department counts more than 20 faculty with doctorates and supports CS research in mobile-telecommunications, security, disease transmission, instant diagnosis, and transportation issues. In his presentation, Gregg Pascal Zachary, of Arizona State University, will describe and analyze the emergence of computer science as both a research activity and as a source for a professional community in a single East African city. While the effort, plans and expertise of Ugandans proved decisive, the Kampala CS cluster also received important contributions from Dutch computer scientists and a Norwegian assistance program as well as from the decision of a young Scottish CS doctorate to join Makerere’s faculty. In recounting the improbable story of CS success by Ugandans living in Uganda, Zachary will also suggest lessons learned for universities elsewhere in Africa – and the international computer science community.
Colloquium coordinators are Prof.dr. M. Aiello (e-mail :
Prof.dr. M. Biehl (e-mail:
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