CMU-Africa Week showcases research and culture

Hannah Diorio-Toth

Apr 27, 2023

The CyLab Security and Privacy Institute recently hosted CMU-Africa Week on CMU’s Pittsburgh campus. In its first year, the event aimed to build collaboration around research problems in Africa.

Fourteen students from the College of Engineering’s Kigali, Rwanda location traveled to Pittsburgh for a week of sharing research and African culture with faculty, staff and students. The visiting students joined nine of their peers who have been studying in Pittsburgh for the semester through the global campus exchange program.

Students from CMU-Africa and CMU-Pittsburgh led a poster session showcasing research on a wide range of topics, including designing medical devices tailored for coarse and curly hair, improving automatic speech recognition for low-resource languages, and creating a digital system model for malaria monitoring. Following the poster session, students transitioned to a cultural event that included African food, music, photography, and poetry.

CMU-Africa and CyLab have been working closely together for years. In 2021, the two created the CyLab-Africa initiative to improve the cybersecurity of digital systems in Africa and other emerging economies.

“Although we can collaborate very effectively from across the globe in this virtual world, it is important to hold in-person events like CMU-Africa Week to build relationships among our CMU community,” says Assane Gueye, co-director of CyLab-Africa and associate teaching professor at CMU-Africa.

During their visit, students had the opportunity to experience CMU’s Pittsburgh campus, which included tours of Mill19, the Create Lab, the Tech Spark, and the JPMorgan Chase & Co. AI Maker Space. The students also had the chance to visit and tour companies like Google and Bosch, explore the city, and attend a few events, including a Pittsburgh Pirates game.

“We hope to create a tradition with CMU-Africa Week and continue to host students and faculty here in Pittsburgh in order to encourage conversation around important research questions,” says Giulia Fanti, co-director of CyLab-Africa and assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.