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Call For Applications: Machine Learning for Earth Observation ToT Bootcamp

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Together with the AI and data science research group at Makerere University in Uganda, US-based nonprofit Radiant Earth Foundation announces its “Machine Learning for Earth Observation” Training of Trainers bootcamp for professionals from Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, and South Africa. This is an exclusive training event made possible with the support of FAIR Forward, which is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

The bootcamp aims to identify and develop a community of African regional experts that can collaborate on solutions to the continent’s needs and problems. Forty participants will be selected competitively to attend this 2-week training at no cost to the trainees. Certificates will be awarded after graduates train five other individuals. 

Registration to attend this training is open, and potential trainees can apply here by February 14, 2021. 

Course dates: March 22 – April 2, 2021

Duration: 2-weeks, online, 20 hours per week

Learning Objectives: 

  • Establishing a baseline understanding of machine learning and Earth observation
  • Learning how to access EO data for ML applications and generating insights from it
  • Building machine learning models such as crop type and land cover classifications
  • Learning how to be a successful trainer

Course format: Online lectures, group settings, and hands-on exercises

Audience: Entry-level data science or remote sensing practitioners. Recent graduates or Ph.D. students specializing in Earth Observation and/or Machine Learning.

Cost: Free for those selected

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Computing & IS

DeepMind supports the establishment of Master’s scholarships to study AI at Makerere University

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Press Release [For Immediate Release]
DeepMind will make a donation to Makerere University to fund the establishment of four scholarships in the field of Machine Learning beginning in the academic year 2021/2022. The scholarships will support students who wish to study MSc. Computer Science programme (Track: AI and Data Science) taught in the Department of Computer Science at Makerere University beginning in the academic year 2021/22. The scholarships will be open to students from Uganda, other East African countries, or International students from a Sub-Saharan African country. The scholarship package will include full financial support for tuition, stipend, equipment, AI conference participation and mentorship. International students will also be eligible for a relocation grant to move to Makerere to begin their studies.

Makerere University will join other leading universities in partnering with DeepMind to offer scholarships, including Stellenbosch University in South Africa and international partners, such as the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, University College London and Imperial College in London.

The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe applauded the partnership between Makerere University and DeepMind.

“In this era, Universities in Africa should embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution if they are to remain relevant and competitive. To achieve this, Makerere University is partnering with reputable partners at the national and international levels to train hi-tech human resources and establish state-of-the-art teaching, learning and research facilities. So, the partnership between Makerere University and DeepMind is aligned to the already ongoing efforts by Makerere University to build the future workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution through our College of Computing and Information Sciences. This is a valuable partnership that will enable Makerere University to train and produce graduate students/researchers and scholars with expertise in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science. Thank you DeepMind for coming on board and for choosing to partner with Makerere University,” remarked Prof. Nawangwe.

Obum Ekeke, Global Lead, University Relations & Education Partnerships at DeepMind, added, “We are very proud to be further expanding our scholarships in Africa with Makerere University, and look forward to welcoming new African scholars to our programme. DeepMind’s education efforts recognise that talent must be nurtured in regions which can bring a diverse range of perspectives into AI research, to ensure AI is a technology that can bring benefits for all.”

Engineer Bainomugisha, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science at Makerere University, said “We are delighted that DeepMind has provided funding to support graduate training in AI and Data Science at Makerere University. The Department of Computer Science is committed to providing relevant skills in AI and machine learning. The scholarships will complement our ongoing efforts in AI training and research with emphasis on its applications to unique African challenges in the sectors of health, agriculture, and environment, among others. The scholarships will contribute to the growth of the African AI ecosystem.”

About DeepMind
DeepMind is a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, machine learning experts and more, working together to research and build safe AI systems that learn how to solve problems and advance scientific discovery for all.

Best-known for developing AlphaGo, the first program to beat a world champion at the complex game of Go, DeepMind has published over 1000 research papers – including more than a dozen in Nature and Science – and achieved breakthrough results in many challenging AI domains from StarCraft II to protein folding.

DeepMind was founded in London in 2010, and joined forces with Google in 2014 to accelerate its work. Since then, its community has expanded to include teams in Alberta, Montreal, Paris, and Mountain View in California.

http://deepmind.com/scholarships

About the Department of Computer Science atMakerere University
The Department of Computer Science is one of the four Departments in the School of Computing and IT of the College of Computing and Information Sciences at Makerere University. The Department is recognized as one of the top Computer Science departments in Africa. Faculty and students in the Department are undertaking innovative research in areas such as machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, and software systems security. The Department of Computer Science hosts the Makerere AI research lab that specialises in AI research and its applications to real world challenges including the automated diagnosis of crop and human diseases, auction design for mobile commodity markets, Google-funded research on monitoring and analysis of air pollution and traffic patterns in African cities.
http://cs.mak.ac.ug

Eligible students for the scholarships need to be admitted to the MSc Computer Science programme. Applicants for the Msc Computer Science at Makerere University should look out for a call for graduate admissions for 2021/22 around the end of February 2021 (tentative) the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training website. For more information about the DeepMind scholarships please contact cs@cis.mak.ac.ug. The scholarship announcement will be published around May 2021 on the Department and University websites.

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Computing & IS

MakSPH METS Program HISTAC Positions: Software Developers

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MakSPH-METS Program staff interacting with Mildmay's Elizabeth during the DREAMS Data Audit at Kalule in Nyimbwa Subcounty, Luwero District. Photo credit: MakSPH-METS

The Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH)-Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Support (METS) Program is a five-year (2020-2025) CDC funded Cooperative Agreement. The overall purpose of the program is to establish coordinated and effective national and district systems for management of strategic information for a robust HIV Program.

MakSPH-METS is also working as a Sub-Awardee to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) on a multi country program entitled HQ Support of Improved Interoperable HIS towards HIV/AIDS and TB Control through Improved HIS Policy, Governance, Workforce Capacity and systems under PEPFAR (HISTAC). The program will provide technical assistance in areas of data base management, software development, case-based surveillance, HIS design and implementation.

POSITION SUMMARIES

MakSPH METS is therefore seeking to hire qualified individuals for the following position under
the HISTAC project:

Software Developer (3)

The Software Developer shall be responsible for designing, developing, implementing, maintaining, auditing and improving new and existing health information systems and project software. He/she shall be responsible to customize national health information systems and integrate biometric and other technology for patients tracking, monitoring and referral across service sites.

Qualifications and Experience

A bachelor’s degree in computer science and software engineering and Information systems. A minimum of five years’ experience in software development or working with health information systems.

Soft copies of the applications should be submitted as one PDF file to the following email address mets[at]musph.ac.ug by 5:00 pm on March 3, 2021.

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Computing & IS

Mak Commissions Research Private Cloud Computing Facility

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Ag. Executive Director UCC-Eng. Irene Sewankambo cuts the tape to commission the Mak Research Private Cloud Computing Facility on Friday 12th February 2021 at the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology. Second Right is Dr. Gity Behravan while Right is Prof. Tonny Oyana. The facility was established with funding from Sida.

On Friday 12th February, 2021 Makerere University with support from the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) commissioned a first-of-its-kind Research Private Cloud Computing facility. Worth UGX1.6 Billion, the facility is situated in the Directorate for ICT Support (DICTS) offices, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT).

Presided over by the Acting (Ag.) Executive Director, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Eng. Irene Sewankambo, the ceremony was also graced by Senior Research Advisor, Embassy of Sweden in Uganda-Dr. Gity Behravan and the Vice Chancellor-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe represented by the Director Quality Assurance-Dr. Vincent Ssembatya.

Present were the Director Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT)-Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, Director DICTS-Mr. Samuel Mugabi and the day’s host, Principal College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS)-Prof. Tonny Oyana.

In his welcome remarks, Mr. Mugabi thanked Sida for being a long-term supporter of developing the ICT function and capacity at Makerere University, right from establishing the optic fibre backbone network at the Main, Mulago, MUBS and MUARIK Campuses to offering training for DICTS staff.

“We are now moving into the Web 3.0 era where the state-of-the-art Research Private Cloud Computing facility will enable us to do high performance computing, serve as a data repository for all 17 Mak-Sida projects and prepare Makerere University for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).”

Prof. Oyana, Principal Investigator (PI) of the Mak-Sida Project 381: Integrating ICT-based support in Research, Teaching and Innovations, expressed deep appreciation to Sida for the continued good will and support to infrastructure development at Makerere University.

“We strongly believe that now an opportunity exists for capacity building in DICTS to develop relevant IT knowledge and skills to grow cloud-based computing and storage applications to supportMakerere University’s research” remarked Prof. Oyana.

In the same breath, he recognized the presence of the Dean, School of Computing and Informatics Technology (SCIT)-Assoc. Prof. Gilbert Maiga and the Team Leader, Mak-Sida Math sub-programme-Dr. John Mango Magero and urged them to encourage recent PhD graduates to start using the facility to host their cloud-based activities.

Project Co-PI, Prof. Uno Fors in his virtual address congratulated Makerere University upon the impressive installation, noting that Stockholm University (SU) had only recently received its cloud computing facility and as such, was not far ahead of its partner. He pledged that SU would support technology-based training of trainers so as to facilitate skills transfer over the internet. “When the pandemic allows, I will come over” he added.

In his remarks, Prof. Buyinza, also Overall Coordinator of the Mak-Sida Programme sincerely thanked the Embassy in Uganda, People and Royal Government of Sweden for the enormous support to Makerere University over the years. He further expressed gratitude that this support was now being extended to research data management through the new facility.

“This is a one-of-a-kind facility to create access, storage and security for our research data and I thank the Project PI Prof. Tonny Oyana for taking the initiative and showing us that it was possible to pull off this high-stake investment” he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Vincent Ssembatya noted that Sida’s cooperation with Makerere University goes back more than 20 years and was glad that the state-of-the-art facility was being commissioned in the period leading up to Makerere’s celebration of 100 years of existence.

He shared that the University had embarked on implementation of its new 10 year strategic plan, which seeks to consolidate Makerere’s position as the global knowledge hub at the heart of Africa, representing a major paradigm shift. “We have in the past been engaged in a number of activities and we now want to see how best to support other universities and the country through initiatives like cloud computing.”

Dr. Ssembatya sincerely thanked the Swedish Embassy and Royal Government for the generosity and support that took into consideration Makerere’s present and future ICT needs. He pledged the University’s commitment to fully utilize the facility.

In her remarks, Dr. Behravan reiterated that institution-building, postgraduate training, and the existence of an environment that is conducive for research and research training are all part of the holistic effort supported by Swedish research funding to Uganda since the year 2000.   

She expressed the Swedish Embassy’s gratitude to Makerere’s Institutional approach to addressing developments in the ICT environment, as shown by establishment of the new facility. “Today we are witnessing the fruit of a cost-sharing partnership between Sweden and Makerere whereby the University has shown a strong ownership in implementation of its ICT Policy and Master Plan and securing the sustainability of the ICT system and services in line with its strategic direction.”

The Senior Research Advisor thanked the Vice Chancellor for working with the Swedish Embassy to ensure that Makerere has a sustainable and affordable ICT environment. She equally thanked Prof. Oyana, Mr. Mugabi and their respective teams for continued engagement and believing that the project could be successfully executed. Finally, she thanked Prof. Buyinza and staff at DRGT for the support and guidance accorded to the project team.

The Guest of Honour, Eng. Sewankambo thanked the project team for inviting her to not only grace but also witness the historic moment. The Makerere University alumna of Electrical Engineering paid tribute to her alma mater for always being a model research and innovation institution. “I applaud Makerere University for being out there and recognizing that we as a nation are growing.”

She shared that Uganda was already implementing her National 4IR strategy and the NDPIII has a specific programme on digital transformation. One of the programme’s objectives is to promote ICT research, innovation and commercialisation of indigenous knowledge products.

“I am happy to note that the National Conference on Communications is going be hosted by Makerere University next month. The Conference will bring together players from Government and Academia to ensure that research developed is relevant to the country” she said.

The Ag. Executive Director UCC thanked the Swedish Embassy and Government for the specific support to ICT infrastructure development and urged all stakeholders to ensure that they harness the immense brain power to carry Uganda forward.

Article by Public Relations Office

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