OCW Stories

Akwir Alain

Self-Learner | Democratic Republic of Congo

"OCW gives rare and high-level knowledge explained in a simple way."

By Sarah Sezun | MIT OpenCourseWare

Akwir Alain received his Bachelor’s in electrical engineering at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (ULPGL) in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Besides facing the usual academic challenges of any engineering student, Alain was living in a war-torn country with few resources and few professors. Wondering if his education was on par with that of other engineering students around the world, Alain decided to do some research, and found OCW through Google. “I started to look for some lectures, and I liked them so much because the methodology used is very good …”

Due to the Internet’s high cost in the Congo, the only OCW materials Alain could use were downloaded PDF files, which nevertheless proved very beneficial. He explains, “As engineers we deal with real problems which are more complex and need some approximation. The first lecture which interested me was The Art of Approximation in Engineering.” Some of the other courses that Alain found helpful were Circuits and Electronics, Math for Computer Science, and Solid State Circuits.

After graduating from ULPGL, Alain taught physics at a boys’ technical high school for a year. Then he became a teaching assistant at ULPGL for two years, where he taught basic courses in math, physics, electricity, and telecom and control processes.

Due to the success he had had with OCW for his own studies, Alain decided to use OCW materials with his students. Some of the most helpful materials came from Classical Mechanics, as well as Electricity and Magnetism. “I tried to fit them (the OCW materials) with what I could teach them. And after the lecture, I used to talk to them about OCW, where they can find these materials.”

“I wondered if when finished with my studies, I would be at the level of other engineers in the world. This question led me to seek what other engineering students in the world study."

Alain is currently pursuing a Master’s in Information Technology at the Alpen-Adria Universität in Klagenfurt, Austria, focusing on nonlinear dynamic systems. His Master’s thesis will examine the “modeling and simulation of traffic flow and traffic control using the Petri net”. Alain describes Klagenfurt as “a very good city, quite calm and appropriate for studies… In my country there are not enough professors or resources like libraries, labs, Internet, etc., while in Austria we have all of these.” Even so, Alain still makes use of OCW materials, which help him understand problems related to his thesis. He’s glad that in Austria, he also has access to OCW video lectures.

Alain intends to pursue a Ph.D. and says OCW will continue to be helpful for him. “There are a lot of topics related to systems theory, which is the field that I am following.” Alain wants to have a career in research or teaching, and eventually “go back to my country to help, because there is a serious lack of teachers, especially in technology.”

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