April 4, 2024

Celebrating 20 Years of Growing Mathematics in Africa: Gabin Maxime NGUEGNANG, AIMS Cameroon alumnus, shares his insights from the Siyakhula festival

AIMS Global Network’s recent 20-year anniversary celebration was more than just a milestone – it was a testament to the significant impact of AIMS in Africa and beyond. The event brought together participants from academia, industry, and government sectors, fostering connections that have the potential to shape the future of research and technology.

One of the highlights of the event was the opportunity to engage with esteemed professors such as Abebe Geletu (German research chair at AIMS Rwanda) and Olivier Menoukeu Pamen (professor at Institute for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics at the University of Liverpool). “I had the privilege to discuss technical concepts of my research with them, particularly focusing on the mathematical foundations of deep learning and the challenges of extending some of my results. Our discussions led to the generation of additional hypotheses and ideas, fueling further exploration within my work.”

“I also found presenting my research findings through both a poster presentation and a 30-minute talk to be profoundly enriching. The diverse backgrounds and expertise of attendees sparked stimulating discussions, injecting fresh perspectives into my project and laying the groundwork for potential collaborations.”

Networking sessions definitely played a central role in facilitating connections and knowledge sharing at the event. For several participants, engaging in conversations with eminent researchers who have extensive experience in both academia and industry like Prof. Ulrich Paquet (research scientist at Google DeepMind, executive director of AIMS South Africa, co-founder and co-director of Deep Learning Indaba), Prof Stefanie Vogl and Hans-Georg Zimmermann (co-founder of neural networks research at Siemens), provided invaluable insights and inspiration for their own career journey. “Ulrich Paquet generously shared insights from his own journey, recounting his transition from academia to his first job in a company after completing his PhD. His advice on preparing for the next step after graduation resonated deeply with me. Particularly inspiring was his revelation that the work he pursued post-PhD diverged from his doctoral research. Despite this deviation, his remarkable success paved the way for further career advancements, including prestigious positions at Microsoft Research and Xbox. Furthermore, engaging with Hans-Georg Zimmermann was equally enlightening. He offered a glimpse into his illustrious career, highlighting the various roles he has occupied, such as senior principal research scientist and scientific head of neural networks research ( with applications in forecasting, diagnosis and control). Their stories provided invaluable insights and served as a wellspring of inspiration for my own journey as I am looking forward to a related career.”

During the event, another highlight was a session dedicated to the mathematical foundations of data science and its applications, which showcased the depth and breadth of research in this field. Engaging presentations facilitated interactive discussions, encouraging a rich exchange of ideas between presenters and the audience. This dynamic environment not only fostered collaboration but also provided a platform for the exploration of open problems and opportunities.

The event concluded with a poignant story from Prof. Neil Turok, Chair of the AIMS International Governing Board and AIMS Founder, highlighting the journey of building a global network that has significantly impacted Africa and beyond. This, coupled with the networking sessions and the specialized sessions, left a lasting impression, reinforcing the importance of collaboration and mentorship in driving progress and success in research.

“As I embark on the final phase of my PhD journey, I am grateful for the connections made and the knowledge shared during this event. The advice and insights gained will undoubtedly contribute to a smooth transition to my next opportunity, fueling my passion for research and innovation.”

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