MFUNDO A. MANELI was born in South Africa and currently a PhD candidate at UWC. He received the National Diploma and Advanced Diploma degrees in software development from Nelson Mandela University, South Africa, and the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) degree in e-skills development programme (with immersive technology) from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and recently completed an M.Sc. degree in computer science with Cum Laude, under the supervision of Dr Omowunmi Isafiade. He is a Research Assistant with the University of the Western Cape, and also works as a Teaching Assistant within the PGDip programme. He has published two journals in an accredited high impact journal platform, and three peer-reviewed conference articles from his MSc research, which aimed at developing a 3D low-cost solution with immersive technology for crime scene data gathering. His paper at the 14th ITU-Kaleidoscope conference on the theme: “Extended reality − How to boost quality of experience and interoperability” was nominated for a best paper award. He is also a reviewer for the IEEE Access journal platform. Mfundo has recently been selected as one of the 200 most qualified young researchers from around the world who will be participating in the 10th Heidelberg Laureate Forum, to be held in Heidelberg, from September 24 to 29 in Germany, for an unrestrained, interdisciplinary exchange. His research interests include software development, LiDAR 3D reconstruction solutions, Computer Vision, and applications of Immersive Technology in diverse computing settings. His continued academic and research excellence has earned him several awards, such as the Golden Key International Honor Society Award, the ITU Kaleidoscope Young Author Recognition Certificate and the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Scholarship.
Kessel Okinga-Koumou is a tech prodigy and a Mastercard foundation scholar currently pursuing a master's degree in Computer Science (CS) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Her MSc project is focusing on developing a centralised asset management system for UWC researchers using publish-subscribe model and immersive technology, to promote research collaboration and increase throughput. She recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in E-Skills Development with immersive technology, where she was part of the top 5% in class. She also holds an advanced diploma degree in Project Management and Application Development from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa. In 2018, Kessel was part of the winning team at a Hackathon sponsored by Amazon, WhereIsMyTransport, and Facebook Circle. She is passionate about using her skills and expertise to develop innovative solutions that can make a positive impact on society. Her master's research focuses on developing an innovative research asset management system using the publish-subscribe pattern and immersive technology. Furthermore, Kessel serves as the Vice Chairperson in the Women in Computer Science (WiCs) executive committee. The UWC WiCS society exposes women from 1st to 4th year in technology-related disciplines, including maths, to various programs that help them discover the possibilities of a tech career. It also brings together like-minded women in technology for networking and professional development. Kessel has recently been selected as one of the 200 most qualified young researchers from around the world who will be participating at the 10th Heidelberg Laureate Forum, to be held at Heidelberg in Germany, from September 24 to 29, for an unrestrained, interdisciplinary exchange. In the near future, Kessel aspires to obtain a doctoral degree, publish articles in reputable journals and conference platforms, and continue to serve as a role model for upcoming young scientists in CS. Her ultimate goal is to become a lecturer at one of the universities worldwide.