Our "newest" faculty member has been roaming the CS corridor for several years already. Saquib Razak came to Doha as a PhD student with his advisor, Nael Abu-Ghazaleh, in 2008, stayed as a postdoc after finishing his PhD, and now has been appointed assistant professor. Saquib wanted to teach since the start, and he has made a name for himself as a dedicated instructor in the introductory Java courses, most recently with the "famous homework 7".
The idea was simple: as a final project in the first programming class, rather than asking students to solve some artificial problem, he had them do something eminently practical, and fun: read a Qatari license plate. That is, given a picture of a license plate (a bunch of pixels), determine the license number (a sequence of digits). Easy for a human, but challenging for a computer. Yet Saquib's students did it, learning some fundamental programming concepts along the way, apparently more easily than in the past. And there was a pizza party the next school day after final submission! Does Saquib have other tricks like this up his sleeve? ... maybe ... Stay tuned.
Before obtaining his PhD, Saquib had already a long and interesting career. A native of Pakistan, he went to the University of Texas at Austin as an undergraduate student, and then stayed for a Masters. He then worked as a software engineer at Motorola for over 8 years before continuing his graduate studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he got his PhD. Teaching was always very important: not only was he an instructor throughout graduate school, but he taught at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia, for four years before coming to Doha.
Saquib is deeply involved in research too, mainly in the area of wireless networking. He studies the propagation of wireless signals with the goal of developing systems and protocols with faster and more reliable communication patterns. For example, a forthcoming project involves moving away from simulated traffic and from artificially generated traffic, two commonplace approaches for this kind of research, toward analyzing real traffic while safeguarding the effectiveness and of existing systems and the privacy of their users. Saquib has also a growing interest in CS education research. Indeed, one of his next projects is to adapt Alice, a programming environment based on story-telling, to the Arabic-speaking context.
When not preparing lectures, running experiments or doing other academic pursuits, Saquib enjoys spending time with his family and playing sports, often in combination.