The University of Cape Coast (UCC) was established in October, 1962 as a University College, and in 1971 it became an independent University whose mission was to train teachers for Ghana’s second cycle institutions and the Ministry of Education. Since then it has steadily expanded its programmes to meet the increasingly complex demands of a technologically advanced society. As part of this effort the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology at the UCC asked AWB for assistance in establishing a graduate program, which would be a first in Ghana. In August 2010, AWB’s volunteers, Geňa Hahn and Dominique Sotteau went to the UCC for two weeks to conduct a feasibility study, looking at institutional support for the program, potential areas of specialization and the research interests of faculty members. In their report, a summary of discussions with professors and students in the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology and University administrators, they recommended that a process for creating a graduate program proceed in three stages. The first, or preparatory stage, would identify those at UCC interested in pursuing advanced degrees in computing science and information technology and in creating a research environment in these disciplines. It would also include seminars provided by visiting professors for interested staff, senior students, and participants from other universities. During this stage some instructors in the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology would complete Ph.D. degrees. If a sufficient number of them obtained doctorates, UCC would permit the Department to establish a graduate programme. The second, or upgrade stage, would have a full contingent of qualified faculty and would involve re-designing the undergraduate curriculum as well as developing the graduate programs. In the final stage UCC would offer graduate degrees in computer science and information technology. AWB’s primary partners for this programme are the current and former heads of the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, respectively, Jojo Eghan and Daniel Obuobi.
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AWB Volunteers Geňa Hahn, Ph.D. (McMaster, Canada), Doctorat d’état (Université Paris-Sud, France), is a professor at the University of Montreal (Canada) in the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research/Département d’informatique et de recherche opérationnelle (DIRO). Dominique Sotteau, Doctorat d’état (Université Paris-Sud, France), a former Directeur de recherche of the Laboratory for Computer Science at the National Centre for Scientific Research/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), was Director of International Relations at the French Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (INRIA) from 2008-2010.
The first stage began in the summer of 2011, when two AWB volunteers, Yannick Toussaint and Xavier Goaoc, taught two specialized courses, Knowledge Extraction from Databases and Texts and Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science, and conducted classes in research methodologies. These are the first steps in providing the faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology with doctorates. The topics covered during the courses–data mining, lattices, graph theory, operations research, analysis of algorithms, etc.–opened new perspectives to many of the students, which is crucial if they are to formulate their own Ph.D. projects. In addition to the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology lecturers who attended the courses, some research assistants about to begin a Master’s degree were included in the classes. AWB Volunteers Xavier Goaoc, Ph.D. (Université Nancy 2), is a researcher at the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (INRIA) in Nancy, France Yannick Toussaint, Ph.D. (University of Toulouse) is a researcher on the Orpailleur team at the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique (INRIA) in Nancy, France
In January 2012 AWB’s volunteer, Laure Berti-Équille, taught a “consolidation course” in Fundamentals and Practice of Database Management Systems whose purpose was to establish solid theoretical as well as practical foundations for research work in this area. The course consisted of lectures, guided exercises, and practical work on the students’ personal computers. The topics covered during the course were data management systems, conceptual data modeling, transformation from the conceptual model to the physical DB implementation, relational algebra, SQL query language, query optimization, DB administration and tuning, which opened new perspectives to many of the attendees. These areas are important both for the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology lecturers’ Ph.D. projects, and for their teaching activities, since it covered material that can be used by the faculty members to teach some parts of their undergraduate courses. There were 19 participants in the course, 6 lecturers and 9 students from the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, 1 lecturer from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Kumasi), and 3 administrators/system analysts. AWB Volunteer Laure Berti-Équille, Ph.D. (University of Toulon), is a senior research scientist in Computer Science at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Aix-en-Provence, France, and a research associate at the Laboratoire d’Informatique Fondamentale, Aix-Marseille University. Berti-Équille’s placement was supported in part by the French Embassy in Ghana.
The next postings took place in the summer of 2012, when AWB volunteers, Jörg Liebeherr and Andrew U. Frank, taught two specialized courses, Computer Networks (Liebeherr) and Information Management, Data Quality and Information Business (Frank). The courses ran for eight weeks, from June 18 to Aug. 10, 2012. Professor Liebeherr’s course covered such topics as concepts of computer network architecture, protocols and systems, with a focus on the protocol architecture of the Internet. He made frequent use of UCC’s own network as an example in his lectures and discussed aspects of network infrastructures in Ghana and Africa. His two-hour workshops, which were informal and interactive, addressed issues that arose in regular classes and were particularly well-received by the students.
Professor Frank’s course was intended to give students a background in the information economy, with a focus on web-based information applications. He covered such topics as determination of information needs, data quality, and the value of information to make decisions. Students analyzed a web-based information business and went on to prepare a business plan and realize a web application. The weekly schedule consisted of two three-hour lectures and two contact hours, or workshops. They were used for problem sets and problem solving related to topics discussed in lectures and developing research skills for doctoral studies. Some of theses sessions were used for hands-on training in specific skills or tasks. He assigned six homework projects and offered laboratory work, with practical exercises directly related to subjects covered in courses. AWB Volunteers Andrew U. Frank, (Ph.D. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), is a professor of Geoinformation at the Technical University of Vienna Jörg Liebeherr, Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology), is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto.
In 2013, AWB ran two projects at the UCC. The first was to deliver an intensive 43-hour course, which ran over two weeks, and was attended by UCC faculty members and instructors in undergraduate computer science programs from three additional Ghanaian universities (Methodist University Accra, Wisconsin University Accra, and Western University). The course centered on discrete optimization techniques, with an emphasis on graph theory and linear programming. Participants used their new knowledge and skills in the development of their undergraduate curricula to upgrade their teaching.
The second project continued work on the doctoral programme in UCC’s Department of Computer Science and Information Technology. Two AWB volunteers spent six weeks at the university to provide the doctoral and Master’s students with an overview of artificial intelligence, including practical uses for future research projects. Another important goal was to determine the current level of the research projects of the doctoral students in the UCC programme and to help those needing additional support to focus their research more precisely.
« Attendees are the immediate beneficiaries.….The number of indirect beneficiaries, based on the indications of the attendees, is 200 to 300 students. The teachers plan to reuse the material (slides and labs) of the lectures.” – Laurent Lemarchand
« Even if it is a long way off, I have high hopes that DCSIT project will become a success. One of the important indications that it will be successful is that Simone and I found opportunities throughout the summer to start several research collaborations with students.” – Jean-Charles Lamirel
« The program is an excellent way to provide the University of Cape Coast with a viable transition towards an autonomous Ph.D. program. I think it is being successful in more ways than originally intended.” – Simone Santini
Laurent Lemarchand, Ph.D. (University of Rennes) is an Associate Professor at the University of Brest, France.
Jean-Charles Lamirel, Ph.D. is a Maître de conférences in Information Science at Robert Schuman University, Strasbourg
Simone Santini, Ph.D (University of California San Diego) is a Professor of Computer Science in the Escuela Politécnica Superior, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
In 2014, AWB is undertaking two projects at UCC. Dr. Elizabeth Quaglia, spent six months from January until June in residence at UCC. Dr. Quaglia taught a two-week course, “Network Security and Cryptography”, before the start of the spring semester and then remained at the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology of the University of Cape Coast as a visiting lecturer for the term.
The course covered the essential knowledge of Network Security and Cryptography and was designed to introduce the basic concepts of these relatively new fields with an open mind to potential research directions.
Alongside the course, Dr. Quaglia’s role as a visiting lecturer centered on collaborating on the Department’s academic activities, from organizing seminars to providing guidance and support for current and potential research students.
In the summer of 2014, Dr. Éric Tanter, and Dr. Artur Lugmayr will each deliver six week courses, Programming Languages (Tanter) and Database Programming (Lugmayr) to the doctoral and Master’s students. In addition to the course delivery, the professors will also offer research direction and support the ongoing research projects of the candidates.
Elizabeth Quaglia, Ph.D. (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Éric Tanter, Ph.D, (Université de Nantes and University of Chile) is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chile
Artur Lugmayr, Ph.D. (Tampere University of Technology) is a Professor of Business Information Management and Logistics at the Tempere University of Technology, Finland.
This project is supported in part with a grant from the French Embassy in Ghana