Computer Science Faculty David Yamoah shares thoughts on teaching students to build technology

October 22, 2018
In an era of artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud computing, anything seems possible in the field of computer science. Yet how relevant is computer science in the Ghanaian context, where technological advancements have yet to progress to the extent of far more advanced countries?

David Yamoah, Computer Science lecturer at Ashesi whose research interest revolves around the dependability of cloud software, web technologies, and software engineering, shared that computer science if harnessed properly, could play a central role in Ghana’s development, as it is central to and interfaces with all other fields.

“The good thing about computer science is that it needs relatively fewer resources to be effective,” David shared. “All that is required is a computer device to develop software, as compared to other sciences where you need an actual laboratory and have to buy equipment. As a developing country, where SMEs and individual developers don’t have the resources to fund their systems, they can take advantage of already available tools such as cloud systems to create a service for a small fee and also cater to Ghana’s growing market. For instance, our traffic systems which are currently manually programmed could be automated by linking lights in different geographic regions together as a network using cloud systems. One of the biggest challenges to computer science in Ghana, however, is access to stable internet connectivity, which poorly affects the prospect of technology services. ”

Currently working in collaboration with faculty from the Engineering and Business departments, David is working with a handful of students on projects to close technology gaps in Ghana’s development.

“We’re using Ashesi as a lab where we can put ideas into practice,” he said. “Students are creating apps to monitor attendance and secure facilities using biometric data and GPS sensors. Other students are also developing first aid and food delivery services using drones, and creating policies for drone operations on campus.”

“For me, teaching is a very wholesome process,” David shared. “In building solutions, I work with the students to identify trends in the news so they can think of ways to apply what they’ve been taught in class to build solutions to real-world problems. We also challenge students to adopt business and marketing strategies, working with their colleagues as clients and testing out business propositions on campus. In doing this, they can learn how to build businesses out of solutions.”

Despite the benefits of computer science in advancing development in the country, infrastructural and financial challenges hinder the dissemination of knowledge to young people.

“Most students who come into college virtually have no idea about the subject,” said David. “They can type on keyboards but don’t know how to program. So it is a good thing that the Ministry of Education has plans of extending and expanding IT in Ghana because there is a need for more people to be technically savvy.”

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