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Prof Bill Tucker
5 May 2022 @ 17:3018:30Computer Science, Faculty of Science
Forward together, sonke siya phambili, saam vorentoe
If you want to learn more about what we are working on, and more importantly how we want to work and walk together, combining ideas from all kinds of disciplines, communities and partners and stakeholders, to leverage information and communication technology for societal impact, you are more than welcome to visit my website and reach out anytime. It’s why I am giving this inaugural speech. I’m looking for people and partners to work and play with, and for funding to do this kind of work. That’s what being a Professor is all about: teaching and learning, research, service and social impact – no matter the discipline. Mine just happens to be Computer Science. I hope I manage to get all that across during this inaugural speech, because for me, they are all wrapped up together in a consilient and sustainable way; forward together, sonke siya phambili, saam vorentoe.
I am an American South African living in Cape Town, and I have been working in higher education for almost 25 years. My passion is leveraging computer science for, with and by poor local disadvantaged communities; in other words, socio-techno activism based on the results of scientific research and the experience of technology transfer to sustainable social enterprise, for example Zenzeleni. As a ‘fool’ (full) professor, the tertiary ‘pipeline’ from first year to honours, MSc, PhD and post-doc is a continual opportunity to learn and teach, applying it towards social impact by walking with real communities and partners, and performing community service both inside and outside the University. Together with students, collaborators, stakeholders and allies, we think global, act local; in other words, we work towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030 and Stellenbosch University’s Vision 2040. In our opinion, tech is merely a tool; not a solution. In reality, tech is easy; people are tough. That intersection, that interface between computing and society, is even tougher. Over the last quarter-century, we’ve walked together on two projects that grew from my own PhD at the University of Cape Town: Zenzeleni and SignSupport, with 23 years at the University of the Western Cape supervising and co-supervising 99 postgrads who took both projects further than I ever could on my own. Now at Stellenbosch, paying it forward to and with local positive deviants, including students, communities, partners and peers, is the most rewarding thing one can do. So, let’s walk forward together!
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