Profs. Bertacco and Austin with their students at AAIT.
During a trip to Africa in 2009, Profs. Todd Austin and Valeria
Bertacco visited Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (then known as Addis Ababa University) in Ethiopia
to give a talk about Michigan Engineering. On that trip, not only
did they find Biruk Mammo, who is now working in Prof. Bertacco's
lab as a doctoral student and was recently awarded a Rackham International Student Fellowship, but they discovered great enthusiasm
amongst a number of students for electrical engineering and computer
|But Austin and Bertacco noticed that AAIT's program in ECE was
severely lacking in resources. "Their classrooms were mostly blackboard
and book-based and the computer labs were overcrowded,"
The professors set out to change that. They reached out to industry
and even into their own pockets to set up a lab that opened in
the summer of 2011. Semiconductor firm Xilinx donated field-programmable
gate array boards, which are reconfigurable integrated
circuits used in digital design classes. NVIDIA donated Compute
Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) boards for parallel programming
courses and research. Intel provided some computers and
the two professors purchased additional computers to establish a modern
25-machine computer lab where undergraduates can work on
computer engineering projects.
This year, Austin and Bertacco spent sabbaticals at AAIT, continuing
their work on establishing collaborations with the institution.
In March, they shipped another 10 computers for use in labs,
and from March through July they lectured and taught courses
for masters level students. Austin created and taught a course on
computer security, and Bertacco created and taught a course on
fault-tolerant computing. The two also started a reading group for
masters students and lecturers, and gave talks on topics such as
how to do research and how to prepare for the GRE and apply to
Prof. Bertacco lectures on fault-tolerant computing.
Prof. Austin (right) speaks with students
from a reading group.
On July 25, the computers that they had shipped from Ann Arbor
in March arrived. "One of the things that we learned," said Austin,
"was just how different the culture is in Ethiopia. Many things move
more slowly here, and patience and a long view are required."
Posted: August 8, 2012