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Learning Data and Knowledge Management at CIP

Eric Muthuri is a fourth year Computer Science student at Moi University. As a core requirement in his third year of study, he had to undertake COM 329: Industrial Attachment. Eric joined CIP in October 2015 for what would be a 6-month internship period at the Sub-Saharan Africa’s regional office. Before joining CIP, he has developed  websites and was among a team of four that designed and developed an automated Intelligent Traffic Management System prototype; due to be presented at the National Science Week later this year. Eric is also a budding Java developer. He recounts his experience at CIP.

Data Management Intern

I was at The International Potato Center for an initial period of 3 months under Data Manager Luka M. Wanjohi from October 1st 2015 to 22nd of December 2015. It was within this time at CIP that I had a full grasp of the practicality of Data Management Theories. Specifically, under Luka’s guidance, I learnt how data is collected using smartphones and tablets on the CSPro app. CSPro is a public domain software package for entering, editing, tabulating and disseminating census and survey data. CSPro works in collaboration with CSEntry which runs on android powered devices like smartphones and tablets. I contributed to the development of survey questionnaires by writing Computer-assisted Personal Interviewing(CAPI) questions.

I was also introduced to the ODK data collection kit during the Hack4Farming workshop at the Sankara, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I got a thorough introduction to development, validation and dissemination of ODK  data collection forms. As a result, I was able to build data collection forms that are currently being used to collect data for SASHA in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to building questionnaire forms, Luka guided me through configuration of Portable Digital Assistant (PDA) devices intended to be used by enumerators. I also setup new android tablets which were deployed for data collection purposes.

The highlight of my experience under Luka was getting to learn the thought pattern of an accomplished data management specialist, how to assess a computing environment and how to effectively find solutions to computing problems for agricultural research.

Communication and Knowledge Management Intern

During my second 3 month stint at SASHA I worked under Christine Bukania, the Communications and Knowledge Management Officer. My biggest responsibility lay in ensuring the complete migration of content from the old Sweetpotato Knowledge Portal to the relaunched site. The new portal was designed to amplify the spread of knowledge between sweetpotato researchers and the general public as well as containing information about Decentralized Vine Multipliers.

I supported Christine in testing the implementation of functional and non-functional requirements of the new portal. Using different levels of access, I tested the usability of different utilities, the ease of access of various modules and the general design layout. I also supported in the development (design and testing) of the CIP-SSA space, an intranet for CIP staff in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

Highlights

I have been excited by the contributions of sweetpotato researchers. In Dr. Ernest Baafi and Regis Umugiraneza lay revolutionary ideas of value addition to sweetpotato; unsweet sweetpotato to suit a certain type of market and sweetpotato spaghetti respectively. This not only served to challenge me as a Computer Science student but also prove that in the scientific context, impossible is a perception.

From these I take with me the invaluable lesson that with the right inclination, scientific research has potential to add value to many underutilized food crops across Sub-Saharan Africa. As my first internship, my experience at CIP has been what I believe to be a fundamental foundation in the early stage of my career. I am grateful to have worked in a full-scale professional environment with staff sharing a palpable focus to the betterment of humanity.

About Eric Muthuri

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