Combining passion with education

Jacqueline Bangirana

Jun 25, 2024

Choukouriyah Arinloye (MSIT ’24) initially pursued a career in accounting because of her passion for numbers and mathematics. However, after receiving a scholarship in computer science sponsored by the Government of Benin, her trajectory shifted and resulted in her earning a dual bachelor’s degree in accounting and audit as well as computer science.

Arinloye quickly developed an interest in technological applications that complement her background. She found her niche in data science and machine learning, an intersection between technology and analytics.

Hoping to strengthen her technical skills, Arinloye applied to Carnegie Mellon University Africa where she was accepted and received the MINDS Scholarship. As a data science and applied machine learning major, taking courses such as Geographic Information Systems allow her to enhance her ability to manipulate geospatial data.

"All my courses are favorites in their own way, but Geographic Information Systems by Corey Harper stands out," Arinloye says.

Equipped with the knowledge from her classes, she has engaged in intensive training on deep learning for satellite imagery as part of a collaboration between the Rwanda Space Agency, The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), and CMU-Africa. She has also been able to utilize what she has learned in other opportunities including an internship with Kumva Insights that focused on geospatial projects and research where she investigated flood detection using satellite imagery.

"My goal is to leverage geospatial data science to tackle socio-economic challenges in Africa and globally through research," Arinloye says. These specific interests were inspired by a course on the strategic use of digital information taught by Michel Bézy.

A unique opportunity arose during her semester at CMU's Pittsburgh campus as part of the CMU-Africa student exchange program: presenting at the United Nations 78th General Assembly on the role of artificial intelligence in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals alongside College of Engineering Dean William Sanders. She highlighted CMU-Africa's commitment to applying AI solutions to Africa's real-world problems.

In addition to her academic pursuits, Arinloye has excelled in other realms such as coming in second place at the Space Hackathon, a competition of space engineering, biology, and art held in Rwanda and Tunisia. Her winning tech solution proposed a platform for monitoring forest evolution using satellite imagery and machine learning.

She is also committed to serving her community and has held various leadership positions with CMU-Africa clubs like French Club, Women in Tech, and the student advisory committee.

Arinloye, who graduated this past May, says that her advice to future students is to combine passion with education and utilize the plethora of free online resources. "Being passionate is important, but so is having the education to back it up. Commitment to learning is key," Arinloye advises.