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Katherine James at the IITPSA award ceremony
Katherine James at the IITPSA award ceremony

On Wednesday 22nd May 2019, the IITPSA Eastern Cape Chapter Committee awarded the 2019 IT Student of the Year Award to Katherine James, a final year MSc student in the Department of Computer Science.  In the citation for this award. This is a well-deserved award to a young lady who is not only at the top of her game academically, but also has time for community engagement in both the social and ecological spheres.

For all three years of her undergraduate studies (2013 to 2015), Katherine was on the Dean’s academic merit list and was awarded academic half colours. She obtained her BSc. degree with a distinction in Computer Science in 2015. Katherine returned in 2016 to complete a joint Computer Science/Physics and Electronics Honours degree with distinction. She was also awarded full academic colours in 2016.  She is currently completing her MSc research.

Throughout her undergraduate and postgraduate studies, Katherine has been involved in some form of tutoring to help her fellow students grasp academic content (in her undergraduate years, this tutoring was in Physics, but during her post-graduate studies she tutored third year computer science). In the first semester of 2018, she also assisted the Department in coordinating one of the large service courses. Katherine was also appointed as a teaching assistant for some of the lecture modules in the service course.

Prior to the award, Katherine has presented her Masters research at two conferences in South Africa. At the Southern African Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference in 2018 whilst in her first year of the degree, she received the 2nd best student paper award at the conference, competing against final year MSc and PhD students. In 2019, at the International Savanna Network Meeting in the Kruger National Park, she received the best “5-min speed-talk” award. This is especially noteworthy as she was presenting on a highly technical drone/machine learning application at a predominantly ecological conference, where almost all of the participants were life-scientists rather than computer scientists. Despite this, she still managed to make the research understandable to the participants.

In 2016, as part of the Ulwazi program run at Rhodes University, Katherine was a member of the team teaching basic computer skills to learners at the Fikizolo Primary School in Grahamstown.

Well done Katherine!