Alfred Mayalu - graduate student | ECE | Virginia Tech

Alfred Mayalu ECE graduate student


Portrait photograph of Alfred Mayalu
Alfred Mayalu

Where were you born?

I was born in Tucson, Arizona. My parents are both from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include playing chess, lifting weights, binge-watching Netflix shows, and playing pick-up basketball.

What's one interesting fact about you?

I just started doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

What are you researching? How might it impact society?

My research focuses on using machine learning/computer vision techniques for data ferrying in unattended sensors and unmanned systems applications. This type of research could be used to help prevent illegal deforestation and track populations of animal species within large, protected rainforests.

What influenced you to choose ECE at Virginia Tech?

I chose the ECE Department at Virginia Tech because of its flexibility in allowing me to do interdepartmental research.

How do you like living in Blacksburg and the surrounding area?

I love the Blacksburg area because of its small-town feel and green mountains.

What is your ideal job? Why?

I have two ideal jobs: working in industry at the start-up level and becoming tenured faculty.

In industry, I want to solve problemsâ??not only in my field but others as well. This job appeals to me because I would like to encounter problems outside of my comfort zone and directly affect society itself. Eventually, in the latter part of my career, tenured faculty at a university would be ideal because I could impact student learning and foster new ideas within the research community.

Do you have any comments about the value or challenges of diverse participation in a classroom, research group, or community setting?

Diversity plays a huge role in a research group because it allows people of different backgrounds to contribute to a melting pot of ideas. Someone from Berrian Springs, Michigan, and someone from the Democratic Republic of Congo would have entirely different views and approaches to the same problem. The value emanates from two people of diverse backgrounds sharing their solutions and optimizing it for the best outcome.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Nothing you learn in undergrad is useless. Learn it once so that you donâ??t need to again. Have no regrets and live life.