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Separated by a distance of more than 7,000 miles, it would be easy for the Pittsburgh and Kigali locations of Carnegie Mellon to feel isolated from each other. CMU’s unique Advanced Collaboration℠ culture bridges the gap between the two. The connection remains so strong, in fact, that every single semester, a number of students from CMU-Africa travel those 7,000 miles to spend a few months in Pittsburgh, trading ideas with the students here, and bringing their own unique perspectives to the research on Pittsburgh’s campus.

This past fall, those students were Electrical and Computer Engineering master’s students (MSECE) Felistus Ayera Misiko, Agatha Niwomugizi, and Daniel Fekadu Marew, and Information Technology master’s student (MSIT) Mary Amuti.

“The opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh is great for the students,” says CMU-Africa Director Vijayakumar Bhagavatula. “They have access to a much broader set of courses and projects than they do at our location. But it also gives us a great chance to assess the quality of both of our programs. The fact that our visiting students perform just as well academically as our Pittsburgh-resident students is a clear sign to us that our program in Africa is just as rigorous as any of our other programs.”

These are students from across the disciplines offered at CMU-Africa: robotics, computer vision, software engineering and entrepreneurship, and more. Each is seeking their master’s degree in hopes of pursuing their own means of furthering the technological advancement of Africa.

“Before coming to CMU-Africa,” says Marew, “my chances of getting into Ph.D. programs at prestigious institutions in my area of interest were slim to none, coming from a lesser-known university in Ethiopia. But since getting into CMU, I’ve had the chance to work on research projects with world-class professors, and take challenging courses that I believe have prepared me to pursue any Ph.D. program anywhere in the world.”

“This is a world-class education based in Africa,” adds Niwomugizi, “and so it is greatly geared towards solving problems on the continent. The interaction between the different students from so many African countries builds a foundation for them to work together on different projects across the continent.”

For the students currently at the Pittsburgh campus, this global perspective, along with Africa-specific training, is setting them each on their journey toward their individual career goals: developing algorithms to help robots interact with humans in more natural and effective ways, managing products for growing startups, and making major decisions to change the energy sector in Africa. With their experience at CMU, these students are on the front lines of changing the continent for the better.

“You can’t go wrong with an education from CMU-Africa,” says Misiko. “It challenges, transforms, and empowers you to be a leader in your career and an agent of change in engineering and technology.”