CS junior Afnan Fahim has been selected as a Fifth Year Scholar. This is only the second time a student from the Qatar campus achieves this prestigious CMU-wide honor. The Fifth Year Scholar program provides a small number of exceptional students the opportunity to spend a full year on the Pittsburgh campus following the completion of their normal course of study. Fifth Year Scholars are supported by free tuition and a $7,000 fellowship. It is an opportunity for students to pursue a broadened educational experience while continuing to enhance the Carnegie Mellon community.
Afnan will be studying the orientation process CS freshmen go through in the Pittsburgh campus and learning how professional development takes place outside of classes, in clusters and ACM clubs. Following this, he will design and implement a mentorship-based program in Qatar for incoming CS students. This will involve developing resources for peer and upper classmen initiated orientation, general mentorship about Computer Science, and ways to get in touch with CS opportunities and employment. While in Pittsburgh, he will also be taking courses in Chinese, literature, cross-cultural studies and electronic music.
During his three years at CMU-Q, Afnan kept busy, both inside and outside the classroom. He organized the first student-led TEDx event in Qatar, participated in various debating championships, was vice-president of Development Solutions, a student organization, and represented CMU in an Hackathon organized by NYU Abu Dhabi. His passion, though, is the web. He has been involved in multiple projects that deal with developing web applications. This started in the summer of 2012 during an internship in Uruguay as part of TechBridgeWorld's iSTEP program. There, he developed an interactive application to help school children gain proficiency in English. His final project for the Web Application Development course was Historify, an interactive site for normal people to collect and share Qatar's history. In the Spring 2012, which he spent in Pittsburgh, he took a course called Computer Music Applications and developed a server for managing connections of a distributed laptop-orchestra, a performance of which was held simultaneously in seven remote locations.
Afnan grew up in Beijing, China, and various cities in Pakistan. Having explored the Chinese and South Asian cultures for a large part of his life, he decided to pursue his undergraduate studies in the Middle East and experience a new type of culture and educational environment. Little did he know that this thirst for cultural exploration would take him well beyond Qatar: he spent a summer in Latin America and experienced the North American college life in Pittsburgh.
To him, technology and communication are the great enabler for the future. Technology has been very important to him, but equally important has been spending time understanding how societies work and how people communicate with each other. He believes such understanding will help him develop better ways for people to interact with technology. His interests in technology and communication have also defined his educational background to a large extent. While growing up in Beijing, he learned Mandarin Chinese in order to be able to speak with the locals and understand their way of life. While on his summer internship in Uruguay, he learned a good amount of Spanish in order to be able to better interact with the people he was working with.