Ahmed Salem

What brought you to Hood College?

I was attracted to Hood College because of Hood’s philosophy of integrating research with students in undergraduate and graduate programs and the concentration on quality teaching and research to emphasize student learning outcomes. Finally, professors care about students and the quality of their own teaching, which is very rare now in most educational institutions.

What do you value most about your relationship with students?

What I value most about my relationship with students is their success, which is achieved by preparing them to excel in meeting the personal, professional and global challenges of the future, the Hood mission. My relations ship with my students is ongoing, even after graduation; they consider me as their mentor and their friend. Maintaining these relationships, coupled with career success ensures our students will remain “Hood ambassadors” long after they graduate.

Why is teaching your dream job?

Teaching is not a job, it’s the art of passing on knowledge. What makes teaching my dream job is that I know what I have learned and passed to my students will never die. Furthermore, when students graduate and excel in their career, and I know that I had a small part in helping them achieve their goal and their success, it is the best feeling ever.

If you were to consider another career, what would you consider and why?

I cannot see myself as anything other than a teacher and a researcher.

Describe your approach to teaching?

My teaching philosophy can be summarized by the following statement: Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand. As an educator, I believe that a dynamic interaction must take place between students and their professor and the subject material. I try to present key concepts in ways that encourage students to make the ideas their own rather than merely to recite them in a passive manner. For example, in CS 287 (Computer Science I), I teach difficult subject materials related to strategies for good program design, algorithmic problem solving and manipulation of abstract data types. Instead of just teaching these key concepts in a passive manner, I inject in the class an interactive project, such as building a word guessing game. By guiding students through the process of developing a game, they discover key topics and concepts in an interactive way. Further, it allows them the opportunity to make mistakes and recognize why one concept or method might be preferred over another.

Preparation for class is an ongoing task. I continually look for new teaching strategies. I am careful to take notes on what happens during class and collect feedback from students. Because my students are always changing, I try to adjust my teaching materials and style to suit their needs. I try to approach each class and relationship with my students as a partnership. It is gratifying to hear when students can immediately apply what they have learned in class to real-life situations and when, at the end of the semester, they let me know they are looking forward to next semester.

What is/are your most memorable moment/s at Hood?

The most memorable moments for me is when our students are honored, and when students come back after graduation to thank us for helping them. Another memorable moment is when we see the spark in our students eyes when they reach their goal.

Describe your academic interests and research?

My general research area is security, mobile and data networks. I am primarily interested in two aspects of these systems: security models for mobile networking and optimization of data networks. My approach is experimental, often combining proof-of-concept to demonstrate feasibility with applicability in real industry applications. My research interest drove me toward problems related to industry and real life applications. A good example is one of my recent publications “Gaming Concepts in Accessible HCI for Bare-hand Computer Interaction.” Hand-Computer interaction is a frequently researched topic in the field of computer gaming. However, very few of the devices or techniques used for hand interaction are accessible within many smaller groups, especially those with disabilities. My research is about developing tools to show several of the techniques used in gaming research and describe how these techniques could be implemented in human- computing interaction with a focus on accessibility for the physically challenged. A bare-hand tracking technique is used to track the location of the hand in relation to a single web camera. This research is a proof-of-concept interface that offers a look at how future devices could be both fun for typical users without sacrificing on accessibility.

When you aren’t working, what are you doing in your spare time?

In my spare time I research for topics that would stimulate student learning and research.

Name three books that you would recommend everyone read:

“How to Think Like a Computer Scientist”
“How to Talk So People Listen: Connecting in Today’s Workplace”