Mentor Profile – Ahmed

Welcome back to 10 minutes with our mentors! In this post we speak to an alumni mentor, Ahmed. Born and raised in Mecca, Ahmed’s curiosity and “wanderlust” was first ignited by listening to the tales of pilgrims visiting the holy city. As a child he use to let his imagination run wild dreaming about one day working on flying cars. Today Ahmed is a recognised inventor - he is a patent holder. He recently finished his Masters in Internet Technology and Architecture, and interned at Ericsson Research to develop Bluetooth Mesh networks control messages. ⁣⁣

Q. Where were you born and raised?

A. I was born and raised in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Mecca is the holiest destination for Muslims. Because of that, we were always privileged to receive visitors who came for pilgrimage, and others who visited from all around the world.  This really made me excited to hear about what the world was like, since my mobility was restricted and I didn’t get to visit many places at that time.  Every year I used to help my father in his shop by receiving customers and preparing and organizing things around. It was not easy at all working for extended hours but it was rewarding to be able to support, nonetheless.

I used to read a lot when I was young due to the influence of my sister who is still reading a lot about all various genres out there. Some books that I read include Lord of the Flies, The Alchemist, 100 Years of Solitude, etc.

Q. What drew you to your area of study?  

A. To be honest, I never knew what I wanted to do. My parents were always supportive despite neither of them going through any kind of formal education. For my bachelor studies in Malaysia, I studied general engineering courses during my first year, and from there I felt like I wanted to continue with computer engineering and electronics. After diving a bit deeper, I found out about the Internet of Things (IoT) in the 3rd year of my bachelors degree –  I really felt that excited about working in an area where the main purpose is bridge the digital and physical world.  During this time, I did an internship at TM R&D (the research subsidiary of the telecommunication company), and I got to experience building an IoT solution for accurate time-stamping, for which later I got a patent for. Then I decided to focus on IoT.

Based on the previous experience, I decided to join the EIT program with a focus on IoT, and I did an internship at Ericsson Research to develop Bluetooth Mesh networks control messages. Recently, I finalised my thesis work with them on studying and verifying the usefulness of graph theory and complex network analysis to reflect the performance of wireless networks. It felt truly great to find a connection between the two different fields!

Q. What are your future plans in terms of work?

A. Funny that you ask because I am currently looking into finding opportunities where I can employ and improve my expertise, either in embedded software development where I can program the IoT devices or data analysis where I can look into how to use data to make decisions or the mixture of both as it was the case for my thesis work. Sometimes I also think of doing a PhD but I feel it would be awesome to settle down for a bit – especially given that the last chapter of life has been all about moving around and studying.

Q. What excites you about the future of technology?

A. What excites me about the future of technology is how uncertain it is. A lot of what we see these days was only a part of cartoons or movies not so long ago! This makes me miss my old days when I used to be overwhelmed with excitement thinking about my future working on flying cars.

Q. What life advice would you give to your younger self?

A. I would like to tell my youngsters to never stop dreaming about what they want to make. Just work hard for it, let your imagination go crazy and all things will come together somehow as you imagined or maybe even better :).

Q. Why did you volunteer as a mentor with Inicio? What was your favourite experience as a mentor?

A. I like to help. My favorite part of the whole thing was when I saw the excitement of my mentees in all age groups when the small robots that we were building finally started to work. I was also amazed by everyone’s creativity with the design and customisations of the bots. It is like they are saying, “I did this, it is mine, and I can improve it and make it whatever I want!” And in all honesty, I think we succeeded when I realized that they don’t really need my help anymore –  they can just fly on their own!

Q. What do you like to do during your “downtime” when you are not busy studying or mentoring?

A. I like to follow different comedy shows, because of how they reflect the funny side of our sometimes not so easy lives. I also follow manga.  I also enjoy traveling a lot, especially given what I said earlier about how my mobility was restricted for the larger part of my earlier life.

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