After joining the Hasso-Plattner Institute Research School at UCT in 2015, which he discovered through a Google search, Richard Maliwatu is set to graduate with a PhD this July.
Maliwatu’s research in computer science focussed on low-cost networking solutions, as well as ways to improve network connectivity. He was prompted to investigate this area because there are so many people without an Internet connection, which means they are unable to make use of available apps and online services. The importance that the HPI Research School places on the applicability of research is what drew him to the school.
“Members of the HPI team really go out of their way to make sure students have all the resources they need for their work,” said Maliwatu. He also enjoyed the convivial atmosphere created by fellow students during his period on campus prior to the pandemic. “I found the interactions and exchange of ideas with fellow students beneficial.” The school's lab space was deliberately designed to be open-plan to encourage a free-flow of ideas.
Maliwatu had two supervisors for his dissertation, Dr Melissa Densmore and Dr David Johnson, both with the Department of Computer Science. “I was lucky as they had complementary skills and I benefitted greatly from their expertise.”
After being exposed for the first time to computer science during his undergraduate studies in Zambia, Maliwatu believes that learners deciding what subjects to pursue at university do not necessarily need to have taken computing subjects at school. He completed both his honours and master’s degrees at UCT and worked as a teaching assistant with the Dept of Computer Science.
Heralding from Zambia, Maliwatu has been teaching at the University of Mpumalanga since July 2020 and hopes that he will be able to collaborate with the HPI Research School in the future.
The HPI Research School annually grants scholarships to qualifying students from the African continent. Applications are open for prospective PhD and postdoctoral students in Information Systems or Computer Science with an annual deadline of 15 August.