Today marked the 2nd day for the 10th edition of the University of Mauritius(UoM) Research week, a whole week dedicated to academics from different faculties to present their research work and findings. Compared to the Rs 4M grant the university received last year, the Rs 16M allocated this year may help the university to make major breakthroughs in research and innovation focused on improving the Mauritian economy. In fact, this year’s theme is “Connecting research to the industry and community”.

Opening Keynote

Today’s research sessions, which were about Transformative Technologies, started with an opening keynote by Mr Vidia Moonegan, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at Ceridian HCM Mauritius. Mr Moonegan started by addressing the current economic status of Mauritius and the slow adoption of new technologies by local companies. National labour productivity rate has significantly decreased compared to previous years along with the supply of software engineers onto the market. This could be attributed to the lack of investment in technology by both public and private enterprises in Mauritius. In addition to that fewer students are taking STEM subjects in High School and therefore there are less students opting for a degree in a Computer Science or Engineering field.

On a different note he mentioned how blockchain technology could reshape the banking sector and completely overhaul financial services in Mauritius.  He briefly spoke about how artificial intelligence is becoming more and more popular nowadays, citing the IBM Watson as an example of the use of AI in the health sector. He also emphasized on why businesses should be investing more into research and development of new products as well as analyse the current technological trends in the industry in order for Mauritius to grow as a healthy economy.

To end the keynote, Mr Moonegan spoke about research in the business context, how it differs from academic research and his work at Ceridian.

Sessions

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An IoT based home automation system overview displayed outside

There were about twenty sessions, with most of them being run simultaneously. Obviously I couldn’t attend all of them so I had to be pretty selective about which ones to attend. I have been pretty interested in Big Data and cloud computing lately so I chose to attend all the sessions related to these topics. Apart from Big Data and Cloud Computing there were topics such as Biometric Data Storage, design and implementation of a UDP tunnel for OpenSSH, gene expression profiling, erasure coding etc.

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An accessibility app for smartphones

With the advent of ‘smart cities’ in Mauritius it is possible that in the future more research will be oriented towards Machine to Machine(M2M) Communication, which involves monitoring systems, wireless sensors and all sorts of connected devices. Hopefully such research will actually be relevant and useful to the industry in Mauritius, ultimately improving our economic status.