CMUSV Assistant Professor To Help Launch Campus in Rwanda
Dr. Hedda R. Schmidtke spent her summer as an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley to prepare for her faculty position in Information and Communications Technology at the recently established Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda (CMU-R). Dr. Schmidtke’s main research interests are in intelligent applications and theory of context-aware mobile and distributed systems. She has publications in the areas of Smart Environments, Internet of Things, Ubiquitous/Pervasive Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Representation, Wireless Sensor Networks, Geographic Information Systems and Cognitive Science. Dr. Schmidtke was previously the research director of the TecO group at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany. Until 2009, she was a research professor at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in South Korea. She holds a doctoral degree in computer science from the University of Hamburg, Germany. At the July 24th Talks on Computing Systems (TOCS), Dr. Schmidtke presented a talk entitled, “No Trade-off? Context-Aware Systems are Both Smart and Scalable.” Afterwards, CMUSV sat down with Dr. Schmidtke as she reflected upon her experience here and looks forward to her position at CMU-R.
Q: How did you become a part of CMU Rwanda?
A: I happened to see the CMU Rwanda opportunity by chance. I had been living in South Korea for 3.5 years and seen lots of international collaborations and free online courses being offered by other institutions but nothing like what CMU was planning. I found it very ambitious and promising that they had an in-country presence. So I decided to leave my comfortable research position in Germany and applied. It is unique that real CMU faculty will be teaching students locally in the same manner they would be in Pittsburgh or here in the Silicon Valley. Students will receive the same quality of education and be rewarded full CMU degrees, so this is the real thing. The only difference is that what we teach will be influenced by and adapted to regional issues in East Africa.
Q: Why Rwanda?
A: Economists are excited about the emerging economies in Africa. Africa, in general, and Rwanda, specifically, has a high demand for new technology. I hope that people will start to see Africa as a place for mobile phones and cloud computing not famines and war. A new perspective about the possibilities in Africa will allow us to create a new future for the area, as a Silicon Valley in East Africa.
Q: What is currently in place at CMU-R?
A: We are offering a Master of Science degree in Information Technology (MSIT). Our first students are coming August 27, so that is very soon! We have a select group of 25 students for the initial 2012 class. I will be teaching computer science for practicing engineers and I’m very excited to settle in Rwanda. We are also looking forward to partnering with information technology companies in the region as well as collaborating with CMU and CMUSV faculty on research and teaching.
Q: What did you learn during your time at CMUSV? What aspects of this campus will you bring back to Rwanda?
A: Being here at CMUSV, if only for two months, has been a great experience. The close proximity to NASA is a childhood dream come true and I am impressed by the research being done in the Smart Spaces program, at the CyLab Mobility Research Center and the Disaster Management Initiative (DMI).
I particularly like the practicums because they are a win-win situation for both the companies and the students participating. The students are doing high-risk projects for companies who wouldn’t otherwise be doing that kind of cutting-edge research. I’m looking forward to taking on this sort of hands-on learning in Rwanda especially as we look to partner with local companies and help grow them with our students.
Q: How do you see CMUSV’s relationship with CMU-R growing in the future?
A: I am happy that I have gotten the opportunity to interact with faculty and students here in just the short time I’ve been here and I think that we got many things started in terms of collaborations. Now, it’s time to grow the seeds that were planted as I hope that there will be deeper research and teaching partnerships between faculty and students at CMUSV and CMU-Rwanda.
Above: Professor Hedda R. Schmidtke spent two months this summer at CMUSV to prepare for her faculty position as part of the first class of CMU Rwanda.