Student Finds Passion for Software Architecture at SATURN Conference-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University

Student Gloria Ingabire discovers passion for Software Architecture at SATURN conference

Gloria Ingabire became active in the health sector while studying for her BS in Computer Science at the National University of Rwanda in the southern city Rwandan of Butare. By chance, a friend brought her to a meeting of Student Network on Population and Development, an organization which trains university volunteers to educate Rwandans on family planning matters. She was taken with the idea of helping her fellow countrymen and women on such an important national issue  - Rwanda’s population has grown by approx 4 million in the past decade to its current level of almost 12 million -  and later became the Vice President of the network.

"Rwandans are very shy to talk about these issues, especially with a younger person but there was interest. There are many challenges for large families and rural Rwandans can see there is a need for family planning," Ingabire told us.

These workshops and information sessions were held after umuganda, which is a monthly officially mandated half day of community work for all Rwandan citizens. The students were trained by the National University and the Ministry of Health to act as family planning ambassadors in rural areas. 

After graduating with her BS she held a job with the British council as an IT assistant,  working on different projects and maintaining online systems testing English language knowledge. However her experiences in the village stayed had left their mark, in her mind health and education are linked. She started conducting research on health and found that 36m worldwide die from non communicable diseases (such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems) and from that 28m were in low or middle income countries. This piqued her curiosity “ what if we can built a system to control these diseases?” .

Starting into her the 3rd semester she looked for courses to help with this aim: research methodology and managing software development, both distance learning modules from Pittsburgh. In the research methodology module she learned about data collection and how to think about surveys correctly. In her software course she learned development is about managing techies and non-techies. She gained a deep understanding of processes and requirements, lifecycles and choosing the best tools for the job. Research for her course work led her to the idea of Open Medical Record System (OpenMRS). 

The SEI Architecture Technology User Network (SATURN) is a professional network of software, systems, and enterprise architects from around the world, representing industry, academia, and government. The SATURN software architecture conference 2015 was held in Baltimore, Maryland April 27-30. The trip was Ingabire's first time in the US and outside the East African region. Her term report for the for the Software Development course on OpenMRS was accepted at this year's SATURN Conference, after her professors in Pittsburgh encouraged her to submit it for publication.

“It was challenging and amazing...challenging as I was alone, everyone at the conference was software architect with big experience and a lot to say. My course was theory, at the conference I learned from experience.”

She found a lot of curiosity about Rwanda and explained to many the CMU mission and ease of doing business here. For Ingabire, one of the challenges facing Rwanda is that there are many developers and few architects.

“It inspired me to be a software architect. Good design is about doing things right, architecture ensures you are doing the right thing. Both are needed!”  

She found people in the US to be confident, strong and hard working, not to mention very social and hospitable. At that time of her visit, Gloria was very busy with practicum reports and revising for exams. Americans very much wanted her to feel at home and encouraged her to leave the books and visit Pittsburgh…. “even in the taxi from the airport I saw signs for CMU…. seems like the whole of Pittsburgh is CMU!”

She’s grateful to CMU Rwanda for the assistance to attend the conference. “[SATURN] gave me direction and now I know what I want to do.”

Gloria Ingabire will graduate from Carnegie Mellon University with her master's degree in information technology (MSIT) on June 22, 2015. She hopes to work in product management or software architecture, and is very willing to relocate for the right opportunity.

Related Links

Saturn Conference

http://www.sei.cmu.edu/saturn/2015/

MSIT Program in Rwanda

http://www.cmu.edu/rwanda/degree-program/msit/index.html