CMU-Africa Graduates 100th Student, Smart Africa Celebrates 1st Graduates-Carnegie Mellon University Africa - Carnegie Mellon University

CMU-Africa Graduates 100th Student, Smart Africa Celebrates 1st Graduates

Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-Africa) marked a significant milestone on June 6th, 2017, graduating its 100th student at this year's graduation ceremony. The Class of 2017 had 33 graduates, the largest and most diverse class to-date, representing four countries–Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The increase in diversity is due to funding from Smart Africa, an alliance of over 20 African governments supporting students at CMU-Africa. The first cohort of Smart Africa scholars graduated in this year's ceremony.

Collectively, the Class of 2017 has completed over 23,000 hours of work with industry through internships, practicums and class projects, and over 50 research and in-class projects, at least six of which were published in notable international research journals. They have competed in several local and international competitions, including the Nelson Mandela Africa Grand Challenge in Arusha and the Hult President's Challenge in Dubai.

James H Garrett, Jr., Dean of CMU’s College of Engineering, spoke at the ceremony and offered some advice to graduates.

"Graduates, you should be proud of your achievements as you now go on to make your mark in the world," said Garrett. "This is a fascinating and exciting time in Africa with many opportunities unfolding around you. Don’t be afraid to stretch beyond your comfort zone to participate in the transformation underway throughout the continent. Live for the present, be in the moment. The opportunity in Africa is now."

Hamadoun ToureThe ceremony's keynote speaker was Dr. Hamadoun Touré, founding Executive Director of the Smart Africa Secretariat, which has renewed its partnership to CMU-Africa with a 3-year commitment to support 30 students through the Smart Africa Scholarship Fund.

"At Smart Africa, we believe in the young innovators and we want to give them the opportunity to dream big, invent and innovate," said Touré. "We believe there is talent in each and every one of the students in our program, and that they will make us proud when competing on the world stage."

Joan NkirikiA Smart Africa Scholar herself, the Class of 2017 Student Speaker, Joan Rachel Nkiriki graduated with a Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Joan also recently received the Lakshmi Subramanian Student Excellence Award, along with Davy Uwizera, at the CMU Commencement in Pittsburgh in May. At the CMU-Africa ceremony, she challenged her fellow graduates.

"If we are to live up to the mission of CMU-Africa, to have transformative impact in society and advance human potential through the application of technology, we must charge at our visions with relentless perseverance," said Nkiriki. "The greatest measure of our success will be how we create our own sphere of positive influence by developing generations and generations of leaders with a CMU mindset."

Kizito MasabaGraduating student Kizito Masaba was also recognized at the ceremony as the 1st recipient of the Jeremiah Mpagazehe Rising Researcher Award. The award was established in honor of the late alumnus and faculty member Jeremiah Mpagazehe. Masaba's research has been presented in Slovenia and Singapore, and he will continue his research career as he begins his PhD at Dartmouth College this August.

Rwanda's commitment to establishing an institution in the country that will educate the next generation of African engineers and entrepreneurs remains steadfast, as is evidenced by the increase in enrollment numbers and a prominent alumni base. Through CMU-Africa, students are able to connect to the continent's rapid and evolving technical and business networks. Top students are sponsored to study for a semester in Pittsburgh, and senior industry executives often highlight the communal study experience offered on the CMU-Africa campus.

Carnegie Mellon University opened a branch of the engineering college in Kigali in 2012 with a mission to transform graduate education in Africa, becoming the first top ranked U.S. university to offer its master's degrees taught by full-time faculty who reside in Africa. In Rwanda, Carnegie Mellon University offers two graduate degree programs: M.S. in Information Technology and the M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The program currently has 14 faculty members with research expertise in energy systems, big data and mobile networks. The program is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years with support from sponsors such as The MasterCard Foundation and Smart Africa.

View our video and photo highlights of this year's graduation festivities:

Graduation 2017: Pre-Graduation Events

2017 Graduation Ceremony