Olivier Baraka Mushage's four-year research journey in Austria

24. May 2023 ScholarsAlumni
Olivier Baraka Mushage received a scholarship financed by University of Klagenfurt for a master's degree and PhD in Information Technology. The researcher managed to attain both degrees in just four years and is now a lecturer in his home country.

I am currently professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technologies at Université Libres des Pays des Grands Lacs (ULPGL) in Goma, Congo D.R. For nearly six years, I acted as the dean of this Faculty. Besides my administrative tasks related to my position as dean, I am also in charge of teaching seven courses related to the field of control and automation engineering. Since my studies, to date, I have authored and co-authored eighteen journal and conference papers, and a book.

My research focus is on invisible technology that is fundamental to the functioning of modern innovative solutions and allows systems to operate autonomously, reliably, and safely. This includes feedback control, linear control, nonlinear control, fault-tolerant control, intelligent control, robust control, embedded systems, and automation systems. Through my research and teaching activities, and through my scientific publications, I want to contribute to the development and dissemination of more knowledge about these topics so that more innovations and efficient solutions can be created.  

First doctorate in technical sciences in home city

Prior to my education in Austria, I had studied for six years for a degree of civil engineering in electrical engineering, specializing in electronics. At the end of these studies, I was hired as a teaching assistant and by that time I was the youngest member of the scientific staff at the university. I would have served in this position for many years before getting a chance to pursue higher education, but I was lucky to receive a scholarship just after two years of my appointment as a teaching assistant. This was motivated by the fact that my faculty was young and heavily relying on visiting professors. So full time professors were needed, and I was lucky to be among those to be prepared to fulfil that mission.

Thanks to a cooperation between my university and the University of Klagenfurt, I was fortunate to receive a four-year scholarship, administered by the OeAD, that allowed me to successfully complete my master’s and PhD studies in Information Technology at the University of Klagenfurt. Thanks to this scholarship, and thanks to the multiple skills acquired through my studies and research activities, I was able to return to Congo, and be the first doctorate in technical sciences in my home city, and the first full time professor and youngest dean of a faculty at the university; this was quite an achievement.

Unintentionally going above the mark

My first journey to Austria was a little bit delayed due to visa issues, so I missed the opening sessions of the classes I was registered to. Some of these classes had lab sessions during which students had to implement algorithms in the MATLAB software, using some mathematical models. As I was late and I didn’t have much experience with MATLAB, I was a little bit confused and struggling a little bit during the first lab sessions I attended. Therefore, I had to make sure I worked hard to get to the needed level. At the end of each session, we were provided home assignments and I was working hard to make sure I completed most of them successfully. This helped me a lot to gain more knowledge about the use of MATLAB. During the last session of the semester, the professor made an announcement congratulating me for submitting all the assignments and that therefore I deserved extra credits. As I was surprised by that fact, a colleague informed me that the assignments were not mandatory, and they were an option for students willing to receive some bonuses. I realized that not knowing this announcement was helpful to me. Thanks to this experience, I have acquired enough knowledge that I have applied in all my research and teaching activities where I use MATLAB for experiments whenever lab equipment is not available.

Sometimes people ask me how I was able to complete my Master's and Doctorates studies in less than four years, and I simply reply that I was following my motto:

"Never put off until tomorrow what I can accomplish today"

I knew that I had limited time and financial resources, and that I had to make sure I met my goals before given deadlines, working hard was my best option. Thanks to this, through my studies in Austria, I received a high-level degree that enables me access to multiple job opportunities, as I have invaluable skills to be appreciated as a scientist and lecturer in a field and region where there are only a handful of us. In addition to being a full-time professor in my home university, I am also a visiting professor in two other technical universities where I teach and supervise students’ works. I thereby also have the capacity of influencing more people’s lives through my work.

Future professional and research aspirations

Considering the valuable assets available at the University of Klagenfurt, we will seek to participate in cooperations that may result in increased capacity building through students and teaching staff mobility. We will also work on journal papers and books for publication.

I hope that there will always be time and opportunities for me so that I can periodically gain access to some advanced international research facilities and some internationally renowned scientists. Through these kinds of opportunities, I can update my knowledge and gain more experience that will improve my scientific achievements and teaching skills.

About Olivier Baraka Mushage

Olivier Baraka Mushage received a scholarship administered by the OeAD between 2013 and 2017 (Special OeAD scholarship based on an agreement between University of Klagenfurt and OeAD).

This year, Olivier has been in Klagenfurt with an Ernst Mach Follow-up Grant for a three months post-doc stay.

We wish him all the best for his future career!