Attlee Gamundani - Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science, (2016 - 2018)

Brief: The first PhD Graduate in Computer Science at NUST

Share your achievement/success story in detail. I recently completed my studies towards the PhD in Computer Science at Namibia University of Science and Technology, which I enrolled at the beginning of January 2016. I have made history as the first PhD Graduate in Computer Science at NUST since the program was launched in the Faculty of Computing and Informatics in 2012. It is such an honour to be the pioneer, yet I feel a great sense of responsibility to live up to the achievement and be a true ambassador of NUST and fully represent the Computer Science Department to best of my abilities. My research work has been in the domain of Cyber Security which I feel in love with at the very beginning of my journey into academia early on in 2012. With particular focus on Internet of Things Security, I was looking at how to secure smart homes towards availing secure living spaces (Ambient Assisted Living) for the elderly, home based patients and saving energy (Energy Saving Solutions) within a smart home environment. My research was mainly driven by the current (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, of which I was focusing on 5 of them namely 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and partially 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

Tell us more about your journey leading up to this moment. At a time when I was serving as the Chief Information Officer at Total Motor Mart Pvt Ltd, I pursued my Masters studies at the University of Zimbabwe (2010 to 2011). A passion for academia saw me joining Chinhoyi University of Technology (2012 to 2013) as a Lecturer in their IT Department. I then joined NUST in 2014 as a Lecturer in the Computer Science Department (FCI), during which period I enrolled for my PhD studies with the Faculty in 2016.

Let me roll back a bit for you, I was initially admitted for PhD studies at Wits in S.A. in 2013 for Computer Science. It was a painful experience as my then supervisor left the institution, after my first year of studies and I was left stranded without a Supervisor for 2 solid years. I made up my mind and started writing new research proposals one after the other for various institutions. I had to deregister at Wits as it took them longer to find a replacement supervisor for me, thus when I restarted my journey with NUST in 2016. I could have closed the chapter of progressing with my studies after that experience but I had to get it done, at all cost. Lesson 1: Don't Quit on your Dreams , no matter what !!

My PhD journey was jam packed, I still can't believe how I managed to complete one of the demanding qualifications i.e. the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) (which I graduated among the first cohort of 2017). I had to be a full time student, parent (to my lovely daughter Tatianna), husband (to my beautiful wife Nyarai), lecturer and colleague ( to the FCI family). I can list a number of research publications featured in International Journals and International Conference proceedings in the field of Information Security covering IoT Security, Cloud Computing Security and Data Security, that I completed during that same period too. I also delivered keynote addresses on security issues at national and International forums during that period. Also co-authored four (4) junior level ICT Teacher’s Textbooks (Grade 4, 5, 6 and 7), which have been published by Namibia Publishing House and currently in use in Namibian schools. I have received several awards on Teaching , Presentation and Research during that same period as well.

It was a miracle packed journey, one driven by passion and a desire to reach for the best there is. All praise and honour to the Almighty God.

You can read more about some of the crazy things I have been able to do during my PhD journey at:

What does this achievement mean to you and how will you use it to motivate others? There is no better way to express how I feel about this achievement, than the nicely coined words of Doe Zantamata, who said, "No one ever got to the top of a mountain in one jump. Challenges can be overcome, and goals can be reached, but it can only happen one step at a time." Once you have set your goals (make sure they are set in concrete), situations may change, and strategies to reach those goals too, that shouldn't disappoint you, its part and parcel of the assorted packages of life. Life is what it is:- it's either you are in a challenge, out of a challenge or about to face a challenge. All this should give you reason to do what you have to do and not an escape goat for you to blame your non-performance on. Excusitis is a common and comfortable fall back position, avoid its trap and move on. I would encourage anyone who want to achieve anything worthwhile in their life, to get out of their comfort zone as many times as is necessary, because most of the notable things of worth are outside your comfortable zone. You will have to do the things you have never done before to get the things you have never had before, thus the way it is.

What are your plans for the future? Being in the ever dynamic field of Computing and Informatics, I have to constantly upgrade and keep abreast of what is happening in my field, so lifelong learning is my call. I am going to invest a lot of my time in applied research and make meaningful impact to society, ensuring we create secure and safe cyber spaces.

I refuse to suffer the torment of regret that comes from living a "What If' Life." Steve Maraboli, therefore I am going to reach out for my deepest heart desires, I would want to retire as early as possible, travel the world and be a present father and husband. I am determined to make my life simple but significant, thus my plan and that is what I would execute.

Share with us your success quote! "Do not abandon the cooking simply because the fireplace is hot, you still have to eat at the end of the day". Honestly I have several such success quotes, my personal motto though is:- " It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."