Five questions with Ayorkor Korsah ’01 Th’03

Engineering for Change

September 16, 2012

By Rob Goodier

Slowly but surely, robots are rolling into African schools. And it's not just a bad sci-fi script. Nigeria debuted at the World Robot Olympiad last year, South Africa has had a FIRST Lego robotics league since 2004, organizations such as Fundi Bots in Uganda and Fab Lab in Kenya are helping students build bots and Egypt has a mine-detecting robotics competition underway.

Ayorkor Korsah Ayorkor Korsah ’01 Th’03 (Photo courtesy of Ashesi University College)

Now, a computer science professor in Ghana is helping to pioneer this nascent robotics movement by linking robotics fans into a continent-wide, virtual community. Ayorkor Korsah ’01 Th’03 [formerly Ayorkor Mills-Tettey], at Ashesi University in Accra, has co-founded the African Robotics Network. AFRON, as the network is called, launched in May and it already has more than 300 members in 25 countries.

Last year, Korsah graduated with a doctorate in robotics and artificial intelligence from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn., and she partnered with Ken Goldberg, a professor of robotics, art and new media at the University of California, Berkeley, to found AFRON. There is star power among the guiding minds behind the network, with an advisory board that includes representatives of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MIT, Make Magazine, IEEE and even Tim O'Reilly at O'Reilly media, among others.

We caught up with Korsah via Skype from Accra and she answered five questions...

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