The hands-on experience I got from working with epiGenesys and real clients as part of modules was very enjoyable and definitely enhanced my learning

Profile photo of MSc student in front of a red brick building
Hend ElGhazaly
Lab instructor at the American University of Sharjah
MSc Advanced Computer Science
Since graduating Hend has been working as a lab instructor at the American University of Sharjah.

What are your main responsibilities?
As a lab instructor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, I design and conduct lab sessions for students at different academic levels to apply theoretical knowledge covered in lectures. I teach 5 courses: (i) Software Design, (ii) Software Engineering, (iii) GUI Design and Programming, (iv) Internet and IoT Programming, (v) Neural Networks and Deep Learning. I also actively carry out training sessions for coding competitions and workshops on machine learning.

Can you describe a typical day?
I usually spend my morning in replying to emails and preparing for the lab session. I then meet with students during my office hours to answer their questions, and professors to discuss the courses’ content. Finally, I have the labs in the afternoon and I grade students’ assignments later in the evening. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role or your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement is when I was recognized as the best instructor in the faculty of engineering during the online shift based on the students’ votes. The most rewarding aspect in my job is when students tell me that the labs enhanced their understanding and they found them useful. On a more personal level, I get very touched when they say that they look up to me.

Are there any challenging aspects? If so what are they?
Working in academia is very challenging, it gets very stressful at times. Especially during the online shift, I put much more extra effort to ensure that I deliver the material at the highest quality possible online whilst making it enjoyable and engaging to the students despite the circumstances. This takes a lot of preparation hours and hard work.

What skills/qualifications from your degree or other training do you make use of in your job?
As a bachelor’s student in the UK at a very strong reputable university, The University of Sheffield, I was offered a world-class education and I developed deeper interest in Computer Science. Furthermore, there were many opportunities at the university to engage in extra-curricular activities that really helped in developing my skills. I have become an avid teacher, by volunteering to teach the elderly with Sheffield Volunteering, talking with younger girls about computer science for inclusivity with Women in Engineering, and promoting it during open days as a student ambassador at the department. I have also worked on various research projects with leading researchers at the university, which enhanced my research skills that I use when preparing the lectures. I carried these skills and ambition forward in my Masters, which led me to achieve distinction in both my degrees, making me a suitable candidate for my current job. 

How have these skills or your course made a difference in your career?
I developed various transferrable skills such as research methods, communication, problem solving, working under pressure, adapting to change, and time management. These skills definitely shaped my personality, and performance at work. After my Masters, I had established an incredible list of skills, and sufficient knowledge in the field to gain confidence in my abilities. Having developed independent learning, I always try to learn and integrate new aspects of computer science so that my students remain advanced in the field.
I also tend to encourage my students to be independent learners, and I use my skills to guide them to knowledge, so they develop their independent passions and realize that knowledge does not end at university.

Why did you choose to study at Sheffield?
I have always found multidisciplinary fields enlightening, especially the blend between computer science and business management was very interesting to me as it is becoming a necessity for any business to be successful. Therefore, I chose Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) in Computer Science in my Bachelor’s degree. The University of Sheffield was one of the very few universities that offered ITMB. 
Despite having offers for Masters in other top-tier universities, I continued my postgraduate studies in Sheffield because I had become so attached to the university, built a reputation with the professors and the course appealed to me the most, due to the flexibility of choosing the modules I want to study.

Did your time at Sheffield meet your expectations?
It definitely exceeded my expectations. I loved it so much that I continued there for my masters. Sheffield easily became a home and leaving it was certainly hard for me. As much as Sheffield was great academically, I have also met wonderful friends, and it prepared me well to be a successful engineer. 

What were the best things about studying in the Department?
The faculty members are approachable and challenged us with the creative assignments and projects to solve real-world problems. I learned a lot from them in lectures and even more when I worked closely with them. They’re inspiring and supportive. It is not only the computer science knowledge that I learned from them but also the transferrable skills I mentioned earlier. Additionally, the modules were varied and having the option to choose them gave me the opportunity to learn about many fields in Computer Science. The hands-on experience I got from working with epiGenesys and real clients as part of modules was very enjoyable and definitely enhanced my learning.
The facilities offered such as the labs and study spaces are also amazing. The Mac lab, the VR lab, the Diamond building which is opened 24/7, all are extremely useful.

What did you like best about Sheffield?
The community; it’s a student city filled with international students. People are extremely kind hearted and respectful. As an international student, I did not feel like a stranger and easily settled in. Sheffield felt rapidly like a second home.

Where do you see yourself in the future?
I have to say it’s always a hard question, it’s a journey and my plans keep changing. For now, I plan on pursuing PhD in the near future.

If you could give one piece of advice to current students or recent graduates what would it be?

For current students, enjoy your student life, embrace it, make the most out of your time at the university in terms of learning and personal experience.  The years will quickly pass by and you will suddenly find yourself a graduate. 
If you recently graduated, congratulations, you did it! If you’re looking for jobs, do not worry too much about it, you’ll end up getting a job. Just be patient and stay ambitious. It’s okay if you feel lost or uncertain of what you want to do next. Seize any opportunity that comes your way if it interests you and gives you a chance to develop or learn. Wishing you all the best!

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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