Research Priority Areas Identified at the CS/IS Faculty Forum

The KENET Special Interest Group on Computer Science and Information Systems (SIG CSIS) successfully organized the first CS/IS Faculty Forum that was held on Friday, November 16 at the Movenpick Hotel and Residences in Westlands, Nairobi. The SIG CSIS is coordinated by Dr. Wanjiku Ng’ang’a, a research associate at KENET and faculty member in the School of Computing and Informatics at the University of Nairobi.

The one-day Forum assembled 93 participants who comprised of Heads of IT departments and early career IT faculty drawn from 42 Kenyan Universities that offer IT degrees in computer science, information systems or informational technology. The main objective of the Forum was for the faculty heads to identify key research priority areas in academic areas of Computer Science and Information Systems (IS). KENET shall support faculty the research priority areas through travel grants and research mini-grants in 2019.

Participants at the IT Faculty Forum

Andrew Kinai, an IBM research Africa Scientist, delivered the keynote address with a special focus on use-case applications of Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technologies in Kenya and the African countries. His address recommended some changes to computer science curricula in Kenya especially at the post-graduate levels to support the research and development in AI and Blockchain technologies.

The lightning talks by representatives from different IT application areas of health informatics, bioinformatics, computational modelling, big data, and DLT further reinforced the need to change the CS/IS undergraduate and post-graduate curricula. In addition to identifying the key research priority areas, KENET highlighted some of the results of 2016 and 2018 IT academic departments survey that tracks the enrollment data, IT full-time faculty and total IT graduates in the period 2015-2017 at different levels. The survey report shall be released in February 2019 after the data validation period is completed.

The breakout sessions during the forum used design thinking format and allowed participants to identity the research priority areas in addition to related topics such as curricula changes. All of the discussions shall be compiled into an IT forum report to be released by December 15, 2018. See the IT forum schedule for list of speakers and topics.

The presentations and the photo gallery are available for all Forum participants.