MUM Student Intern Wins Amazon Award

MUM Student Intern Wins Amazon Award

In professional sports, top performing first-year athletes receive a lot of public attention. In the IT industry, Amazon has a top “rookie” performer in Amarbayar (Amar) Amarsanaa.

In his first year working for Amazon Fulfillment Technologies DevOps (Development Operations) team, Amar was named “Associate of the Month” in recognition of his contribution to, and impact on one of the Software Development Engineer (SDE) teams he was supporting when he reduced their operating issues by 86%. He also was promoted to DevOps IV!

According to Amar, “Operational excellence is something my employer takes seriously, as we (Amazon) continue to strive to be the earth’s most customer-centric company. We don’t stop at just innovating, building and launching — but we also make sure our services are optimized, efficient, reliable, available and accurate. In executing these plans, we identify manual, repetitive work and take the initiative to automate it to save our and others’ time.”

Recently, Amar teamed up with another engineer on his team to automate the process of data consolidation, which had been done manually by engineers. This automated process is now used by engineers, SDE teams and managers to drive their teams’ service operational excellence. The automation saves 2-3 hours per engineer, per week, and it is widely used by 12+ teams, and counting. During the October 2016 organization meeting, including teams from the US, Canada and India, Amazon leadership recognized their effort, and awarded Amar and his colleague the honorable, “Operational Excellence” award. Quite an honor for a “rookie!”

International Educational Background

Amar has always enjoyed traveling. He left his native Mongolia at 14 to attend an English-speaking high school in Poland, and later enrolled in a U.S. university where he graduated on the Dean’s List with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. The university President named him Outstanding Student of the Year. During this time he also excelled in playing piano and guitar.

After college, Amar was named Employee of the Year at a software company in North Dakota, and won a photography award. As the following photos illustrate, Amar is a talented and accomplished photographer with a sense of humor!

Later, while studying in a graduate computer networking program in Korea, he learned about the MUM Master’s in Computer Science. Amar was attracted by the curriculum, healthful diet and quality living conditions at MUM.

Academics at MUM

Amar applied to our Computer Professionals (ComPro) Program and began classes at MUM in June 2014, where he also became a resident advisor, and Computer Science representative to the MUM student association.

According to Amar, “The quality of the education offered in the ComPro program is outstanding. Not only do the faculty have remarkable industry backgrounds, but they are always up-to-date on the newest technologies, so that students can be assured they are learning the best from the best.

In addition, team projects bring up a great opportunity for students to collaborate, solve real-world problems, present their solutions to meet extremely high requirements imposed by the professors — and at the end of the day, we come out with solid project experience, which helps in finding internships.”

Life on the MUM Campus

“Academically, the ComPro program sets high standards for its students. To support total student development, MUM provides a very comfortable and healthful living environment, so that students can take on the challenges of academic life when they are at their best. People talk about work-life balance, and I feel that the balance of academic work and life at MUM was perfect… this is what I enjoyed the most about living at MUM.”

Benefits of learning the Transcendental Meditation® Technique

“Another reason I chose MUM was the opportunity of doing the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM). TM is one of the fundamentals on which the university was built. It is a simple mental technique that relieves stress, improves thinking and creativity, and increases your energy level. I have a high respect for it. The biggest benefit of TM for me is that it helps me relax, and then have sharper focus on complex issues, resulting in comprehensive and satisfying solutions without stress,” says Amar.

Internship at Amazon & Life in the Seattle Area

After completing eight months of on-campus courses in Fairfield, Iowa, Amar was hired in 2015 to do his Curricular Practical Training (CPT) internship as a DevOps Engineer with Amazon Fulfillment Technologies in Seattle, Washington. He enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest, where he pursues his passion for natural outdoor environments, working out, photography, music, and social involvement in worthy causes.

Advice for Other Software Engineers

Amar enjoyed his time on our campus: “There are so many advantages at MUM. I feel extremely lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity to be a part of it: Low upfront cost, outstanding academic program, remarkable faculty and staff, opportunity to work with skilled professionals from other countries, a dedicated career strategies class (resume reviews, interview preps, mock-up interviews, job searching techniques), internal job fair network, organic meals, comfortable living environment, sports facilities, events, activities and clubs. And most notably, 99% placement rate for internships!”

“Therefore, I would definitely advise students and working professionals from around the world to take advantage of this great opportunity. Check out the admissions requirements, make sure you meet or exceed the requirements, and apply!

Be prepared to get challenged and be prepared to embrace all the positive outcomes you will get from the ComPro program. Also, for success at MUM and in the US, you need very good English skills!”

Future Plans

“I plan to continue developing myself personally and professionally. In addition to growing at Amazon, I hope to impact the world using technology to solve day-to-day problems that people face, and possibly starting a company with friends and/or business partners.”

“I will also continue participating in the same non-profit areas that I am part of today, to help the next generations of Mongolians achieve their personal and professional goals through coaching and mentoring. ”

Additional Appreciation

“I will be graduating this December. It has been a dynamic and rewarding ride since I became a ComPro student. One of my favorite courses was Advanced Software Development with Dr. Guthrie, because it has helped tremendously in my professional work.”

“I will be forever thankful for everyone I have met during my student life at MUM. I have made some wonderful, life-long friends in the beautiful natural MUM environment, and hope to participate in the commencement next spring to reconnect with my fellow ComPro students, faculty and friends. I will continue upholding the name of MUM and will always be a proud ComPro alumnus!”

Amar would like to thank his parents for their tireless and continuous support in every moment of his life, and for raising him to be who he is today. “Thanks mum and thanks dad!”

Note: Amar works at Amazon and the postings on this page are his own and don’t necessarily represent Amazon’s position.

Computer Scientist Changing Lives of Young Women in Rural India

It is not so unusual that a 14-year old teenager in Lucknow, India might teach herself to use a computer. But when Promila Bahadur accomplished this in 1991, what she did with this knowledge has profoundly changed the lives of many young women in a poor, rural village just 15 kilometers from her home.

When Promila would visit the nearby village of Nizam Pur, located in Chinhat Block, Lucknow District in Uttar Pradesh, she always felt uncomfortable that village residents, and especially young girls, had no opportunities to gain an education. In this village, and thousands like it throughout India, young women were expected to learn to cook and take care of a home, get married, and then raise a family. But this ongoing cycle of poverty and illiteracy has perpetuated a largely unfulfilled population in rural India.

So, without concern for what other people might think, and with the blessings of her parents, she started visiting the village with a computer, and began teaching computer literacy to young women. Her students’ parents approved of her helping their children. Promila was self-motivated to help strengthen Indian society by empowering girls to become the mothers of a literate society.

Using her own money, she started the Guru Computer Education Center (2004), later renamed the Guru Institute of Information Technology, bought more computers, rented an office for $70 per month, and eventually hired local staff. The initial class included seven girls, and later she included boys and some older women, taking on more than 60 students at a time.

Hoisting the Indian flag at the Guru Institute of Information Technology.
To date, Promila has trained over 2000 individuals, including youth, women, elderly and children!

For Promila, “The motivation comes from the fact that God has bestowed the power of creativity on women. One of my high school teachers told me that, ‘A literate mother can give a literate society.’ So, women empowerment is a must!”

Government Recognition

In 2004, the government of Uttar Pradesh recognized and approved Promila as the first Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) to start a Common Service Center (CSC) for improving the day-to-day needs of rural Indians. Even people in neighboring villages started depending on her CSC for various services. They were not computer literate, so she began imparting computer education to the people of her chosen village and the neighboring villages.

Last year, at a National Conference of CSCs hosted by the Government of India, Promila was selected as one of only six out of 500 VLEs in all of India to receive a special banner!

Honorable IT Minister Shri Ravi Shankar ji acknowledged the institutional services made to society through Promila’s Common Service Center.
Success Stories

Promila relates three of the many success stories of her Center:

    • Uzma Irfaan
      “Uzma joined our Institute 11 years back while she was in high school. She is from an orthodox Muslim family. Generally the family does not permit their daughters to pursue higher education. Her father, a farmer, approached me, and asked for suggestions for his daughter’s future education. On my suggestion, Uzma finished her undergraduate degree in Computer Science and later on earned a masters in Business Management. She is currently teaching professional courses in our Institute.”


Uzma Irfaan’s student receiving award from Promila. Uzma is the Instructor in the back.

    • Manoj Kumar Yadav
      “Manoj is a student from our first batch started in 2014. He was an undergraduate. He was looking for some skill development courses which could help him find a job in the market. Manoj did three years of professional computer courses from our Institute. He also did a Master’s in Computer Application. Later, he also joined our institute as Instructor. Currently Manoj is working with a university as an Instructor for undergraduate technical courses.”
  • Sunil Kumar
    “Sunil has the most amazing story. When he joined us in 2014, he was working as an office boy at a university. He was an undergraduate, and later learned professional computer education at our Institute. I was really surprised to find that after finishing courses from our Institute, Sunil started working as a Computer Operator in the same university. This meant moving up from Grade IV to Grade III.”

Additional Personal Accomplishments

Promila’s life has changed in many ways since starting her Institute: She has completed her MCA, and MTech degrees in Computer Science, has gotten married, and obtained her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Uttrakhand Technical University in India. Her scholarly work is on multidisciplinary research in Natural Language Processing, which involves incorporation of English, Sanskrit and computer languages.

She has also given birth to two beautiful children! In 2015, she and her children moved to Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, where she is currently Assistant Professor of Computer Science.

Promila with her 6-year old son and 3-year old daughter outside the Maharishi School.
Interest in Maharishi University of Management

Promila decided to come to MUM for a number of reasons: (1) She liked the idea that the University teaches on the block system, providing students the opportunity to study and go deeply into each course, full-time, for a month. (2) Because of MUM faculty interest in Sanskrit, this presented good opportunities for research collaborations. (3) Adjacent to the MUM campus is the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE), an award-winning school where her children could experience the best of American education.

Staying Connected to Her Institute

In addition to all these important responsibilities, Promila maintains daily contact with the manager of her Education Center in India. She is proud of her ability to multi-task, and feels that her daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique helps her maintain a balanced, increasingly successful life.

Because her Institute and its growth are the great passion of her life, Promila continues to financially support it, happily giving 30-40% of her salary at MUM to support the Institute and its current staff of seven near Lucknow.

Before Promila returned to visit India with her children this past June, she heard that our local school (MSAE) had 6 used computers for sale. So, she bought them (again with her own funds), and carried them back to India for the village and Education Center.

Promila purchased computers from MSAE here in Fairfield, and hand carried them back to India for her CSC this summer.
Future Plans

Promila’s plan is to establish one computer education hub among a cluster of six Indian villages. This hub will also cater to their general day-to-day needs apart from imparting computer education: like providing them medicines, banking facility, ATM, general insurance, etc. This hub might also make farmers more informed about new technologies and ways of organic farming. Farmers could be informed how, where, and at what price they should sell their produce. People should own and live in simple, modern homes, and make a decent salary, and there should be good schools and other modern facilities for all the people.

Promila adds, “If one day some of our students get the chance to study at MUM, this would be, in fact, like a dream come true for me!”

Need for Support

“We need to raise funds for our expansion plans. The people out there kept me moving over the last 12 years. I am always happy to see the change and bliss brought in the lives of the individuals. Without my family’s support and understanding, we could not have been successful. My family has stood by my side by providing any kind of support needed to enable me to work many hours, and devote more focused time at our CSC.”

New Computer Professionals Career Center

This spring the Computer Professionals Career Center for MUM relocated to beautiful, newly-renovated offices on campus in Verrill Hall (Rooms 43, 45, and 46).

The new facility has work stations for students, two seminar rooms, and an open floor plan for the efficient workflow of all operations and coaching/training teams.

The 11 staff members of the ComPro Career Center support student success in rewarding Curricular Practical Training (CPT) employment in the U.S. IT industry through: seminars, workshops, interview and employment coaching, promptly-issued work authorization, and professional resume development.

 

Computer Professionals Career Center Professional Staff

Appreciation from Students

All our international students take seminars and a three-week Career Strategies Workshop to prepare for locating a professional practical training internship position in the U.S. Since 1996, nearly 1700 students from 80 nations have done curricular practical training internships in more than 1000 U.S. companies. Current placement rates for interns is 99%.

Here are comments from students who have completed this training:

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all the Career Strategies coaches for all your help and support during this last eight months. The interview practices and skills I have learned from the coaches were extraordinary in helping me gain self confidence and preparation for effective internship searching in the U.S. IT market.

“Quite frankly, before that I didn’t have any idea about how to start searching for an internship, or how to express my work experiences and skills to the interviewers to impress them.

“Now that I have passed the first round of technical interviews with one of the biggest tech companies in U.S., I’m sure that the skills I have learned in class will make a crucial difference in my favor. Thank you very much for all your help and support during this amazing course.” —Ali Shedaei (from Iran)

“I had lots of questions and confusions about Curricular Practical Training. How do I explain it to others? How do I start seeking CPT employment? Interactions with the recruiters, interviews, etc.? All the answers came during the two weeks of the Career Strategies class. I gained lots of confidence through the mock interviews that we practiced during the class. Later, when I got the calls from the company, it was so easy!” —Surendra Bajracharya (from Nepal)

Computer Professionals Program Celebrates 20 Years of Success

During graduation activities last month, the MUM Computer Professionals ProgramSM celebrated its 20th anniversary. The number of students currently enrolled in the program has reached a record number–over 1000, including students on campus and in practicum positions.

The program is extremely popular among international students, who have come from 80 countries so far, and the program is expected to continue growing.

Craig Pearson, MUM Executive Vice President, described the program as a “win-win-win situation”

New students are treated with a welcome lunch when they arrive

  • Students win because they earn an American degree and gain work experience with a U.S. company, and can self-finance their academic program through their practicum position.
  • The participating technical practicum companies win because they benefit from highly skilled professionals.
  • “The University wins because the students are talented, and serious-minded, and they contribute to our wonderful international diversity,” said Dr. Pearson.

Students receive eight months of on-campus instruction

What makes the program so successful?

The MS in Computer Science degree which MUM offers is unique because students study only eight months on campus, and spend up to two years working as practicum students in paid positions at U.S. companies while finishing their degrees via distance education. This structure is very attractive to computer professionals who want to study and gain practical experience in the U.S., because they are able to pay for their education from their salaries.

Greg Guthrie, PhD. After 20 years as the Head and then Dean of our School of Computer Science and Mathematics, Dr. Guthrie will now be taking a new position as Dean of Educational Technology. Replacing him as Dean of Computer Science will be Dr. Levi, the current Chairman of the program.
This “ComPro” structure began in 1996, when program leaders Greg Guthrie and Keith Levi, along with Elaine Guthrie, current Director of the Computer Science Department, decided to approach Fairfield businesses to hire students from the program. They had 14 students in the first year. Interest in the program began to grow, and soon the Fairfield job market became saturated. In 1999, Ron Barnett joined the team as marketing manager and began approaching large companies outside of Fairfield. His campaign was successful, and in 2000 enrollment jumped to 112.

Jim Garrett, head career coach, helps a student

Enrollment further increased when new marketing director Craig Shaw began a social media campaign in 2008. Interest in the program has continued to increase ever since. Finding practicum opportunities for hundreds of students is no small task. That’s what the Computer Professionals Career Center takes care of by educating students in U.S. business practices and coaching them on interviewing and resume-writing skills. In the past five years, 99 percent of students have found practicum positions.

Students practice the Transcendental Meditation technique in class

When students apply to the program, developing their consciousness is not high on their list. “But once they’re here, they come to understand and appreciate the Transcendental Meditation® technique,” said Greg Guthrie, Dean of Educational Technology. “When they’re in their practicum phase and send us regular progress reports, many talk about how challenging and busy their work is, and how the Transcendental Meditation technique helps.”

Keith Levi, PhD, Dean of Computer Science

Elaine Guthrie, Director of the Computer Science Department

See a video of the 2016 Awards Ceremony where four of our graduates received outstanding student awards.

Gaining Knowledge, Respect and Acceptance in America

At a time when many Muslims and other minority groups are feeling challenged in the United States, here is a heart-warming story of religious tolerance, respect and acceptance in our university, located in the heartland of America.

After losing his IT job in Egypt in 2014, Mohamed Samy felt the need to begin a new life.

As an experienced software engineer, he knew that coming to the U.S. for a Computer Science master’s degree might provide a valuable education and opportunities to advance his career.

An Unexpected Surprise

In searching the Internet for a relevant U.S. master’s program, Mohamed found a program that looked perfect for his needs–the Computer Professionals Master’s Program at Maharishi University of Management (not far from Chicago in north central U.S.).

[At end of the newsletter, watch Mohamed’s video about his MUM experiences. Already viewed by more than 1,600,000 people on Facebook!]

In reviewing our website, Mohamed saw that everyone in the University practices a simple, scientific technique to reduce stress and increase creativity and intelligence–the Transcendental Meditation® technique(TM). This seemed unusual and intriguing, so Mohamed did some research and learned that there is a center in Cairo where the TM technique is taught.

He attended a free introductory lecture, asked many questions, and learned about the many benefits. He appreciated learning about the compatibility with his Muslim faith, as well as the role of doing TM as part of the MUM curriculum, and decided to take the simple 7-step TM course.

Upon learning Transcendental Meditation, Mohamed was pleasantly surprised to experience some personal benefits that he never expected. After losing his job, he had become tense, worried, and could not sleep well for months. Within a few days of beginning TM, Mohamed felt calmer, more relaxed, clearer in his thinking, more optimistic, and was soon able to sleep well again!

According to Mohamed, “TM has helped me gain a clarity of mind that helps me face the challenges I have in life. I have always had issues with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and taking ADD medication to help me focus, and reduce anxiety. TM helped me reduce the dosage of medication, because I was more settled in my mental state. TM also helped me address the anxiety, and function at a more effective level at work and in my studies.”

With appreciation for the benefits of Transcendental Meditation, Mohamed found the Computer Professionals MS Program at MUM to be even more inviting–low initial cost, extensive financial aid, industry orientation, harmonious and diverse campus community, top faculty, and the opportunity to work in a U.S. company for up to two years with a fully-paid curricular practical training (CPT) internship. Mohamed proceeded to apply for our MSCS program. He was accepted and traveled with his wife Natalie Samir to Fairfield, Iowa to enroll with 106 other students from 18 nations in May 2015.

Life at MUM

As a seasoned software developer with more than 15 years professional experience, Mohamed didn’t expect to learn much more during his eight months of on-campus classes. To his delight, in every class he learned valuable new computer science knowledge from very competent professors (including one with a PhD from MIT).

Mohamed and Natalie felt at home on the beautiful MUM campus in Fairfield, Iowa, where they found people from many diverse cultures and backgrounds all living together in a very warm and welcoming family-like environment. When it came time to apply for internships, they decided to try to find a professional internship right here in Fairfield.

With the help of Jim Garrett, Director of Training and Coaching in our Computer Career Center, Mohamed learned of an opportunity to work for a large investment research company in Fairfield. The company had an opening for a high level, experienced Enterprise Architect. The job and location were so ideal, that Mohamed told the company he would even work for less money than he’d already been offered at a different company in another city. To Mohamed’s surprise, the Fairfield company found him to be such an ideal candidate, that they offered him even more money than the other company.

Religious Tolerance, Respect and Acceptance

Prior to learning the TM technique and coming to MUM, Mohamed was concerned about how comfortable his situation would be with his strong Muslim faith. He quickly realized that there is no contradiction between Transcendental Meditation and Islam. He found that TM is not a religion–there is no worshiping involved. TM is just a technique for experiencing deep rest. There is no concentrating, just experiencing the deepest level of rest. TM has nothing to do with religious practice.

Mohamed has found everyone at MUM to be very respectful of his religious practices. Muslim students have access to a small mosque on campus, and they also feel comfortable doing prayers when other students are sometimes nearby. The students enjoyed their Eid celebrations.

Mohamed adds, “MUM is a place that accepts all people, and teaches people to be accepting of others. I have had a great experience coming here as a Muslim. I have gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of Islam, as well as greater knowledge of universal truths that are found in Islam and all religions.”

Advice to Potential Students

Mohamed explains that, “Maharishi University of Management is a great place to come to build your career. In the process, you gain a deeper perspective about your life, enabling you to make profound changes in yourself that affect everything around you. I advise anyone who wants to start the next step in their career and their life to contact MUM admissions to discover these profound benefits for your own life.”

Special Video by Mohamed

Mohamed is grateful for all the benefits he and Natalie (also practicing TM now) enjoy at Maharishi University of Management. As a way to let others around the world know about TM and MUM, Mohamed has created a special 7-minute video describing his experiences here.

Even though Mohamed speaks excellent English, he chose to record the video in Arabic with English sub-titles, so that people throughout the Arabic-speaking world can appreciate what is available to them. The sub-titles make the video easy to appreciate by non-Arabic speakers.

Mohamed is happy to share his experiences with other software engineers who may want to know more about our Computer Professionals Program. The “ComPro” Program is now in its 20th year, with nearly 2000 graduates from 78 countries.

Please enjoy the video here.

DevFest 2015 Software Competition Success

At most universities, when the semester ends, students leave campus to travel and visit friends and relatives. However, last month, 85 graduate computer science students at Maharishi University of Management chose to stay on campus for an additional 7 days to compete in a team software competition called DevFest 2015.

After classes ended in December, Maharishi University of Management held its first hackathon-like Development Festival for generating new engagement tools to promote Maharishi Ayurveda* in the world. The goal of DevFest was to generate software engagement tools of various technology types and formats, while providing the students with an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. The DevFest was a structured 7-day on-campus event, and included activities ranging from education in Maharishi Ayurveda, to generation of interesting project ideas, to team development of solution products, and final presentation for evaluation.

Competition Judges: Dean Greg Guthrie (Computer Science), Professor Paul Morehead (Physiology and Health), and Professor Andy Bargerstock (Management)

85 graduate students in the Computer Science Department split into faculty-mentored teams which created 14 projects, and the top three teams won significant cash prizes. The projects addressed Maharishi Ayurveda from many perspectives: education and diet, herbs and crops, and health situations such as pregnancy and diabetes. Solutions were proposed to meet the needs of the general public as well as wellness consultants, through tools such as interactive websites and Mobile/FaceBook apps.

How were Projects Judged?

The team projects were judged by an eminent panel of three senior faculty judges who reviewed the presentations according to predefined evaluation criteria. The criteria included:

  • Market attractiveness and business readiness of the project
  • Innovation and quality of the technical design and development
  • Quality of connection with Maharishi Ayurveda

Competition Results

The winning team won $1000 for their Ayurvedic Chef web application. $600 was awarded to the AgriVeda team, and the Our Vedic Life team took home $300. Congratulations to the students, organizers and judges for a most enjoyable, educational, and fun-filled experience. See photos from the 7-day competition.

DevFest organizer Dr. Anil Maheshwari was pleased with the results: “We are delighted to have successfully introduced this enjoyable learning experience for the MUM graduate students. They not only learned valuable health-giving knowledge about Maharishi Ayurveda, but also developed new technology-based tools to deliver improved health for our society. Significant prizes provided additional incentives.”

Dean Guthrie notes, “This was a wonderful opportunity for the students to have a very creative and fun experience, integrating so many of the things that they have learned with an entrepreneurial context. The excitement and their happiness in presenting their projects was a joy for all involved!”

Winning Teams

First place: Ayurvedic Chef Project: Ananda Subedi, Riwaj Rimal, Bibek Karki, Regan Rajak, Pradeep Basnet, Dheeraj Pandey. Photo includes 2 faculty.

 

Second place: AgriVeda Project: Sanjay Paudel, Adam Manandhar, Samir Karki, Surendra Maharjan, Hari K. Chaudhary, Shyamu Neupane. Photo includes 2 faculty.

 

Third place: Our Vedic Life Project: Shailesh Singh, Shree Raj Karki, Samrat Bhusal, Rikesh Karkee, Yubraj Pokharel, Tara Prasad Adhikari, Dharma Kshetri. Photo includes 2 faculty.

* Maharishi Ayurveda is an ancient system of natural, prevention-oriented Vedic healthcare known to create balance in mind and body by detecting and eliminating underlying causes of disease.

Sahar Abdullah: Role Model for Women’s IT Education

Most young women growing up in Yemen have few opportunities for higher education and professional jobs. But Sahar Abdullah’s parents believe that higher education plays an integral role in personal development, so they strongly encouraged Sahar and her sister to continue education after high school.

Because Sahar was one of the top secondary school students in Yemen, she received a scholarship to study for her bachelor’s degree in Egypt. Her love for programming and problem solving led Sahar to choose computer science as her major. At Cairo University she successfully completed her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and master’s degree in Information Systems, and completed a Cisco diploma at American University.

After learning about our unique MS in Computer Science in a LinkedIn message from MUM, Sahar kept thinking that one master’s degree was enough–but the idea for a second master’s emphasizing OOP software development kept popping into her head. So she decided to research Maharishi University of Management and our MS in Computer Science for Computer Professionals program, and joined our Facebook group. When Sahar realized that many Arab students had happily and successfully enrolled in this program, she decided to apply, and was accepted for the October 2014 entry.

Happy at MUM

When she first arrived at MUM last year, Sahar’s initial impression of the University was that everyone here was happy. She told her mother, “All the people here are smiling and saying hi!”

After a year on campus, Sahar reflects on the special nature of the MUM/Fairfield, Iowa community: “I really love this peaceful environment that I am in–an environment full of love, happiness and joy obtained from the incredible benefits of practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique. Just living in this community with international software professionals all doing TM together is an honor for me in itself.”

Even though she is far from her parents and sister, and misses them very much, Sahar’s family is relieved to know she is in a very safe and completely supportive environment at MUM.

Harmony in Diversity

“As a Muslim lady living in Fairfield, I feel that people around me are respecting me and others,” says Sahar. “They treat me as one of them, despite the fact that I wear my scarf. I have never felt mistreated. Friends greet us on Eid (a Muslim holiday), and Eid prayers trips are arranged for us.”

Top Academics

Sahar has also been pleased with the academics in the Computer Professionals program: “The program’s high standards create a powerful motivation. I look to this program like a tree: You plant the seed, water it, and take care of it. As the knowledge grows within, you gain fruits forever. Every aspect of the academic program was the best either in moments of challenge, or moments of success. The courses were very challenging, but now that I am finished, I am ready for my curricular practical training internship in the IT industry.”

Advice for Other Female Software Developers

“Nowadays, the biggest challenge for a female is to be employed and feel useful for society and herself. I would like to tell all female software developers who feel they are creative, full of ideas, and dreams, but have not found the appropriate ways to express their talents–at MUM you will get the support and knowledge to realize the best in your skills and competencies.”


A Bright Future

In January, Sahar will begin her IT career as a Software Engineer at Intel in Oregon where she will be part of a product development engineer team. Her job will be transforming designs into competitive products, and testing development for microprocessors, system-on-chips and chip sets. We wish her great happiness and success, as we stay in touch with another special member of our world family.

Student Achieves Success

Zheng Yang has a strong thirst for knowledge, and the desire to excel as an IT professional.

Prior to enrolling in our MSCS program, Zheng worked for about 2 years as a Software Engineer in mainland China. At that time he started looking for a graduate program combining academic learning and practical working opportunities. Once he heard about the MS in Computer Science for Computer Professionals at Maharishi University of Management, he applied and began his studies here in February 2010.

While still an MUM student, Zheng Yang has already achieved a number of laudable professional achievements. Following completion of his on-campus courses, Zheng interned at Snibbe Interactive in San Francisco as an Immersive Media Software Engineer. There he got the chance to work with Scott Snibbe, the pioneer of computer vision technology, who came up with the idea of “Gravilux.”

Microsoft Featured App: Gravilux

Gravilux is an interactive musical starfield visualizer: it’s a combination of music, animation, art, and science. As you touch the screen, gravity draws simulated stars to your fingertips. You can tease and twist the particles into galaxies, or explode them like a supernova. Color the stars by their speed, and make them dance. After making a version for IOS, Zheng was instrumental in making a version of Gravilux for Windows 8. Out of 50,000 apps in the Windows Store “Entertainment” category, Microsoft decided to feature Gravilux.

Wrote and Published Book

While working full time at Snibbe, Zheng was also completing distance education courses as part of his MUM MS program. On his own time, he wrote the book, Windows Phone 7 XNA Cookbook. Because there were no specific books about game programming for Windows Phone at the time, he wanted to share what he had learned. After 17 months of writing and editing, the book was published in cookbook style, offering solutions using a recipe-based approach. Each recipe contains detailed instructions followed by analysis of what was done in each step. The book was written for aspiring game programmers who have basic knowledge of C# and object-oriented programming, and want to create games for Windows Phone 7. Reviews have been quite positive.

Goals

Zheng Yang’s goals include making a video game engine that can provide realistic playing experiences, and developing a new art form called “Generative Art,” which creates computer generated music and painting. His MSCS program at MUM has been a big help in allowing Zheng to rethink the best practices for designing the architecture of game engines with efficient algorithms. He has been most stimulated by the Advanced Programming Design, Computer Graphics, and Algorithms courses at MUM.

Zheng especially appreciates the MUM block system of studying one course full-time each month, allowing for dedication and deep appreciation of each discipline. He finds the quiet and peaceful campus atmosphere ideal for calm, focused studying.

To assist other software developers in advancing their careers, Zheng advises people to work hard and keep learning. People should enjoy what they do, practice their skills every day, never give up, challenge themselves, manage time well, maintain discipline, and remain optimistic.

TM Practice

Zheng says that practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique produces a calm, relaxed mind and enhances self-knowledge in a fast and noisy world, leading to greater patience and productivity.

Current Activities

At the beginning of April this year, Zheng returned to MUM to take two additional courses of great interest: (1) Mobile Device Programming, and (2) Enterprise Architecture. Because mobile programming with Android is one of the main streams in current technology, and because he only has experience on Windows Phone and IOS, Zheng is taking the Mobile programming course to learn Android programming.

Venezuelan Student Travels the World Promoting ‘Free Knowledge’

Damian Finol is no stranger to international travel. When he was a baby, his parents brought him from Maracaibo, Venezuela to the U.S., so they could pursue graduate studies. More than 25 years later, Damian has returned to the U.S. for his own graduate education in Computer Science at Maharishi University of Management.

Damian’s love of traveling has led to work with the Wikimedia Foundation, where he helps establish Wikimedia chapters on every continent to bring “free knowledge” worldwide—a major accomplishment of which he is very proud. He is one of only 8-10 international Wikimedia Chapter Committee members with this distinction.

Damian Finol at the United Nations in New York.

For example, in 2006, Damian gave a presentation at Wikimania at Harvard University on the usage of Wikipedia in Native South American tribes in northwestern Venezuela. Then, in 2008, in the historic Library in Alexandria, Egypt, Damian lectured on, “Social attitudes of Latin Americans toward Spanish Wikipedia.” This 25-minute lecture can be viewed at the movie archive of the Library.

The Foundation continues to send him to different countries to establish chapters for preserving and disseminating free knowledge. Next month, he goes to Germany during spring break at MUM.

IT experience

While studying to be an Informatics Engineer at Universidad Rafael Belloso Chacin in Maracaibo, Damian did mostly JSP/Servlets, and then switched to Unix/Linux system administration. This evolved to IT Security, where he worked for two of the biggest banks in Venezuela. He was responsible for managing the security of a big range of projects, including EMV chip technology on credit/debit cards and PCI-DSS Compliance (As required by VISA/MasterCard).

From 2008-2011, Damian taught SQL/Databases, Project Management, Systems, IT Security and Linux as an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Nueva Esparta University in Caracas.

Education at MUM

After 5-6 years of Software Engineering, Damian decided to continue his academic preparation with a Masters degree. Several friends raved about their experiences at MUM, and after some research he decided that the curriculum (7-8 months of courses, studying one course per month full-time, followed by up to two years of paid authorized practical training in a U.S. company) was most inviting. He also liked the fact that the program fosters personal growth through the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® program.

According to Damian, “MSCS courses at MUM are incredibly up-to-date. Classes in software development, programming practices, etc., teach the latest practical skills and algorithms, so you’re ready for the current job field.”

Life at MUM

Even though Damian is accustomed to a much warmer Venezuelan climate, the few months of cold Fairfield, Iowa weather don’t bother him. “The human warmth among students, Computer Science administrators, and the caring, experienced faculty at MUM is very comforting.”

“People on campus and in the community are very friendly to the diverse student body. There are lots of activities in the Latino clubs, and a welcoming Catholic Church nearby. After only a couple days on campus, you can start calling the university your second home,” adds Damian.

Misconceptions before arriving at MUM

“My main misconception when I heard and read about MUM was the Transcendental Meditation Movement behind it, and how it sounded like a religious movement. This of course wasn’t the case. The Transcendental Meditation technique is not related to religion in any way, and is supported by more than 600 scientific studies documenting benefits in all areas of life. It’s a technique that helps the mind like yoga helps the body. So learning about it, and experiencing what it was all about showed me that TM is a universal technique that improves precision and clarity of thinking, and creativity, which make algorithms easier to design.”

“The MUM community is very multicultural. Students come from many different backgrounds, cultures and religions: from Arabs, to Indians, Nepalese, Ethiopians, Chinese, and of course Latinos. The University has a big Christian community (Catholic, Protestant), and other religions too (Muslim, Hindu, etc.). MUM encourages students to observe religious holidays and fosters students to express their culture and religion freely. There’s no incompatibility between the Transcendental Meditation Movement and religion or culture.”

Goals

Damian thinks big, and everyone who meets him is impressed with his good nature, balanced personality, professional competence, self-confidence, and motivation for success. He would love to help create the next Google or Facebook, and is already making plans to start his own IT company. Upon completing his on-campus coursework in June, Damian plans to take an internship position near family in Seattle while enjoying a comfortable, safe and happy life.

Advice for Software Professionals

“My advice is to go for it. Don’t be afraid to see the world and experience life. Coming to MUM has been a tremendously positive experience—one that I’m sure I’ll remember fondly for many decades. It’s a fun place to study and to grow.”

The University isn’t just here to teach about Computer Science, but also to help you grow as a person. That’s not something that is seen in other universities. In a regular university, knowledge is taught without thinking how the body and mind process it. At MUM there’s also a focus on how development of mind and body makes that knowledge useful and more insightful. It truly is a different (and positive) way of learning.”

Watch a video about Damian and our MSCS program on YouTube.

Software Engineer, Student, and Scholar

Our MSCS student interns work full-time in their professional IT positions. They also take required distance education courses. As a result, most students find little time left for any other activities. Mohamed Sobhy M.A. Farag is an exception. Not only is he working full-time as a Technical Consultant for the top IT consulting company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earning A’s in his distance education courses, but Mohamed has made the time to pursue a number of scholarly activities.

Mohamed was born in a small town in northern Egypt, and attended primary and high school in Saudi Arabia. By the time he finished high school, he was ranked sixth among the top ten students in Saudi Arabia. During this period Mohamed became inspired by computers, and he returned to Egypt to study Computer Science in Menoufia University, where he specialized on the architecture of computing machines and operating systems.

By third level at Menoufia University, Mohamed was listed on the FreeBSD contributor list. He got the opportunity to develop an approach for loading FreeBSD kernel modules at run time dynamically. As a result of this project, he was awarded a Google Summer of Code Prize. His interest reached to both the node structure level, and to the node communication level. By the fourth year at Menoufia University, he studied Computer networks and received CCNA Academy certificate (CISCO Certified Network Associate). In May 2011, he graduated with a grade of Excellent with Honor degree.

Recent Honors and Achievements

During 2010 and 2011, Mohamed received several honors:

  • First place in “Best Programming Project”, Renewable Energy Conference, Egypt, 2010.
  • Google Summer of Code Award, Google, 2010.
  • First place in “Best Programming Project”, Renewable Energy Conference, Egypt, 2011.
  • Top 20 Engineers in Egypt, 2011.
  • Technical Lead at ArabBSD project (December, 2010 – Present).
  • Organizer at Google Developer Group (January 2011 – Present).

Mohamed’s recent scholarly achievements:

  • August 2012: Mohamed published the article, “Multicore dynamic kernel modules attachment technique for kernel performance enhancement,” in the International Journal of Computer Science & Information Technology (IJCSIT), vol 4, no 4, under the Maharishi University of Management, Department of Computer Science.
  • December 2012: He published, “An enhanced run-time kernel visual debugger,” in the IEEE 8th International Computer Engineering Conference (ICENCO) Proceedings, also under the Maharishi University of Management, Department of Computer Science.
  • February 2013: Mohamed was formally invited to speak at the session on “The Emerging Mobile Applications and Services” at BIT’s 2nd Annual World Congress of Emerging InfoTech-2013, to be held June, 2013 in Dalian, China.
  • March 2013: Mohamed’s proposal, “Cryptology from Operating System Paradigm,” was accepted as a chapter for a new book discussing the importance of information security in a multidisciplinaric manner. In this context, “multidisciplinary” indicates the presentation of computer security topics in terms of other disciplines, i.e. introducing security in file systems, kernels or cloud instead of offering pure security topics. Currently, his chapter is being revised by several professors who specialize in computer security.
  • April 2013: He was invited to participate in the US Department of Defense “Cloud Computing & Assurance for Critical DoD Initiatives Conference” in Maryland.

Why attend MUM?

When asked why he chose Maharishi University of Management for his Masters degree in Computer Science, Mohamed replied, “The choice for graduate study depends on a student’s objective. The majority of programs miss the ability of tracking market needs. There’s a gap between the theoretical research and practical life. I can feel it in my new workplace where we have other universities’ Master’s students lacking the industrial qualities. From my perspective, MUM is one of the top places in preparing students with the required qualities and experiences for the US market. I gained the industrial experience indirectly during my on-campus studies at MUM, and have faced many situations in my job similar to what I had in course labs.”

Advantages of practicing the TM® technique

“The focus on self-development along with educational qualities is fascinating at MUM. Transcendental Meditation as a common self-development technique [practiced by all students, faculty and staff at MUM] helps me to listen to my inward capabilities, and to enhance my emotional stability.”

Future goals

Mohamed’s goals: “According to the rest and activity cycle, I’m planning to return to academic studies soon. I’m intending to study for a PhD to build and refine my systematic thinking and investigate new ways of problem solving.” He is considering MIT, Stanford and Carnegie-Melon for his PhD.

Advice for other Software Engineers

“Maharishi University of Management is one of the top programs which prepares students for top industrial positions in the US IT market. You should consider MUM if you want to be a leader in the IT world.”