Collaboration has begun between the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto and the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT), which is part of Addis Ababa University.

The goal is to help AAiT mount its Ph.D. program by helping create sustainable graduate courses in the faculty.  The Government of Ethiopia has made the creation of Ph.D. graduates a priority, to supply faculty to teach in the growing number of Universities in Ethiopia.

The general plan is to have UofT faculty travel to Addis Ababa, and to teach courses at the graduate level – both to graduate students, and to local faculty, so that courses can be picked up and taught by the local faculty.  In addition, the plan is to have UofT faculty co-supervise Ph.D. candidates who are seeking the degree at AAiT.

Professor Yu-Ling Cheng from the University of Toronto leads this effort, as part of her role as Director of the Centre for Global Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at UofT.  She has visited Addis Ababa twice to engage with the leadership of AAiT. Dr. Clare Pain, the leader of TAAAC, has also made good connections with the Scientific Director of AAiT, Dr.-Ing Heiko Schroeder, and the Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr.-Ing Getahun Mekuria.   Collaborations have been established across three different engineering disciplines:

Electrical and Computer Engineering

The first teaching activity in this collaboration occurred in May, 2011.  Professor Jonathan Rose, from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UofT, together with graduate student/teaching assistant Braiden Brousseau, taught two 2-week courses to faculty, graduate students and a few undergraduate students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at AAiT.  The two courses were:

Digital Hardware design using Field-Programmable Gate Arrays.

Thanks to a generous donation from Altera Corporation, we were able to bring 20 Altera Development and Education ‘DE2’ Boards to help teach hands-on digital hardware development.  There were over 15 students in the course, and four faculty members.  It was intensive two-week course in which all students who were available did work on one of six laboratory exercises every day.  The final lab was fairly sophisticated, producing graphics on a display direct from hardware!  Each day also included a 2-3 hour lecture on various subjects relating to modern hardware design using the Hardware Description Language Verilog.

Lab 1: Introduction to FPGAs, Computer-Aided Design Environment and the Verilog Hardware Description Language
Lab 2: Input/Output, Vectors, & Hierarchy
Lab 3: Structural and Behavioral Verilog for Addition and BCD Addition
Lab 4: Flip-Flops, Counters, Register, Human Time and Circuit Time
Lab 5: Finite State Machines and Controlling Datapaths
Lab 6: Complex State Machines and Video Graphics Array (VGA) Display

Mobile Phone programming

The goal of this course was to introduce the students to mobile smartphone programming – how to create ‘apps’ for Android-based mobile devices.  This 2 week course also consisted of a 2 hour lecture each day – on device programming basics – and a 3 hour lab in which the students practiced various aspects of how to create apps.  These ranged from the very basic, to the final lab, which was a kind of fun app that could help a blind person navigate:

Lab 1: Learning The Development Environment; Buttons, Text and Images
Lab 2: Containers, Select, and Lists
Lab 3: Creating Multiple Activities using Intents
Lab 4: Life Cycle of Activities, Reading and Writing Files, Pop-Ups, Webkit
Lab 5: Threads and Using the Debugger
Lab 6: Sensors:  The Accelerometer

Program Contact Information

Professor Tony Sinclair

Chemical Engineering

Professors Levente Diosady and Yu-Ling Cheng of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto have been working with Professor Shimelis Emire to develop research projects that are appropriate to the Ethiopian context and can serve as PhD dissertation topics for AAiT chemical engineering students.  They have submitted a proposal to Canada’s International Development Research Centre to develop a process for extracting protein from Abyssinian rapeseed, a common crop in Ethiopia.   Professor Cheng will also be providing input to Professor Berhanu Demessie, the Head of Chemical Engineering at AAiT, on the postgraduate biochemical engineering curriculum.