Page 1


Lost in translation:

employees learning Arabic

Well rounded:

students take learning outside the classroom

Student profile: Basit Iqbal

APRIL 2005




2 4 6 8 9


Lost in translation Well rounded Research update Student profile Connections

6 10

4 10 11 12 13 14

Poster session New building Focus on fitness Math program Black and Gold mania Brown bag series New faculty & staff Faculty news, Marion Oliver

Nine out of ten students we asked when we started the spring classes were happy to be back from break – they had a wonderful break, but were starting to get bored, and wanted to get back to Carnegie Mellon, to their friends and to their studies. That’s great. Campus is very quiet when our students are on break; it’s not nearly as interesting as when classes are in session. Just to complete the record keeping, the tenth student surveyed wanted even more time to catch up on sleep. I sympathize with that as well. I know how hard students work at Carnegie Mellon – remember, I was one myself many years ago, so I understand sleep deprivation. But we’re not letting up anytime soon. One of the things we’re most excited about is our “meta-curricular” activities. Carnegie Mellon students are becoming world-class computer scientists and business leaders. We also want them to become world-class people. Students who went to Pittsburgh for the Summit program had a great adventure – skiing, taking seminars and hanging out with Pittsburgh students. One of the most dramatic moments of the trip was when students who had been in the US Arab encounters course together – but on opposite sides of the video link – recognized one another on the Pittsburgh campus. What a moment to commemorate the culturally-enriching experience of the class. I’m especially interested in the opportunities students are starting to create for charitable organizations and for bridge-building across cultures. Nine of our students headed to Pittsburgh over spring break to work on a variety of service projects, everything from working with animals at the Animal Rescue League to repacking food at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. I hope we all aspire to reach out to others in different economic situations or from different religious and cultural backgrounds. Creating those connections is fun and enriching; it’s also important for our world.

My best wishes to you all Charles E. Thorpe, Dean

 akhbar APRIL 2005

APRIL 2005


Lost in translation Carnegie Mellon employees learning the language

The old adage that ‘the older you are, the more difficult it is to learn a new language’ may be true, but it’s not stopping the employees of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar from trying.

Several dozen students enrolled in Reading, Speaking and Writing Arabic Level 1 in the fall of 2005 when the class was first offered. In fact, the response was so overwhelming that Conversational Arabic was added this term and those who graduated from RSW-Level 1 have continued onto RSW-Level 2. Lanny Duke, orientation administrator, says both classes are being offered because people want to learn different things. “Some want to learn how to read it and write it, and others just want to learn how to speak it,” she says. Both classes are offered on campus, free of charge, through a partnership with Qatar Centre for the Presentation of Islam. QCPI provides the instructor and the materials, all Duke has to do is reserve the classrooms and encourage people to sign up. Keith Marsh, student services specialist, enrolled in Conversational Arabic classes at VCU during the fall term for both personal enrichment and as a way to show respect for Qatari culture. Having not tried his hand at another language in a few decades, he was inspired by the progress he was able to make. “At the end of the class I actually knew more than when I started,” he says with a bit of surprise. So he decided to stay with it and is now enrolled in RSW-Level 2, which is proving even more of a challenge. Class instructor Hamdi Blekic says Marsh’s reaction is to be expected. “You are basically starting from zero. Arabic reads right to left, there are letters that don’t exist in the English alphabet and the articulation points are different,” he says. “It’s very difficult to begin a new language when you have no basics.”

 akhbar APRIL 2005

When English speakers learn languages such as Spanish or French they already know the letters and the sounds they make, so they can limp their way through pronunciation. Then it’s just a matter of learning what the words mean. Since the Arabic alphabet has 28 letters, students must learn to identify and pronounce each letter, then each word and finally identify what the word means. Plus as with all languages there are irregularities and special circumstances such as a letter being written differently depending on whether it falls at the beginning, middle or end of a word. Blekic, a native of Slovenia, says when he starts teaching a new group of students most of them think learning Arabic is impossible. Then after a few classes it slowly begins to click. First it’s learning the letters of the alphabet, then it’s recognizing a few words and before long the class is reading complete sentences. The key to mastering Arabic, according to Blekic, is to stick with it and try to learn something new each day. After all, Arabic is like most other challenges of life, he says. “If you want to learn it, you can. No matter how hard it is.”

To enroll: Conversational Arabic classes are from

8 to 9 a.m., Mondays and Wednesdays. Reading, Speaking and Writing – Level 2 is held from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. To enroll in RSW-Level 2 you must first take RSW-Level 1. All classes are held in room A156B. Classes will continue each semester and will be dictated by student demand and skill level.

APRIL 2005


WELL ROUNDED Students take learning outside the classroom

College is about much more than books, class rooms and final exams. It’s also about personal development, friendship, enriching your spirit and getting involved in the community. “It’s more about making yourself a better person for the future,” according to computer science freshman Yasser Khan. “You do that by cooperating, getting involved, helping others and collaboration.” Yasser is one of the many students at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar that are getting involved in a wide range of extra curricular activities that both add to their overall educational experience and make an impact on those around them. Activities have become so plentiful students are now mastering the delicate art of time management so they can take part in a variety of new things. Awareness and helping others has become a goal of many students. The Active Women’s Club is always busy encouraging the growth and development of women. In the fall the group focused on women’s health by holding Pink Day, which was coordinated to help raise awareness of breast cancer. Everyone on campus got in the spirit and prizes were awarded for the best pink outfit. Helping those with cancer was also the focus of the Terry Fox 5K Run held in February. A few faithful runners from Carnegie Mellon turned out to burn a some calories for a good cause, while others spent hours collecting donations to help people they don’t even know.

 akhbar APRIL 2005

Learning from each other is also a common focus of activities. The Cultural Club has hosted many activities around campus to highlight the different nationalities represented among the student body. A “Dress in your Native Culture” day was held for students to share the history behind their cultural attire. Similarly a “Thobe and Abbaya” day was held to highlight Qatari culture. Each of these days gave students the opportunity to share a bit of themselves and at the same time learn about others.

These types of activities all fall in line with the mission of student services to create “University Citizens,” says Kristin Gilmore, director of student activities. “We’re here to provide the opportunity to learn and grow outside the classroom.” And Gilmore and the rest of the student services staff seem to work around the clock doing just that. Each week they plan activities that range from trips to the zoo and taking in the latest movies to bowling or just hanging around talking about issues that are important to students. Trips to Pittsburgh to check out Carnegie Mellon’s campus seem to be on the minds of many students, Gilmore says. Not only does international travel give students a whole new perspective on life, it also gives them countless opportunities to learn outside the classroom. In January three students left the warmth and comfort of their homes in Qatar and headed to Pittsburgh to take part in Summit, a three-day program of intellectual exploration that included courses, seminars, work shops and, of course, fun. Even the threat of snowfall, cold winds and temperatures in the 20s and 30s – Fahrenheit that is – did not deter Anas Abu Qamar, Mustafa Hasnain and Mohammed Abu Zeinab from a once-in-a-lifetime trip. “It was very meaningful to me. It helped me explore myself and the people around me. And I was put in situations I was not usually in,” says Mohammed. “I was overwhelmed at the number of people who welcomed us.” While at Summit, Anas, Mohammad and Mustafa participated in classes not available to them during the course of their regular studies. Mustafa tested his agility in figure

skating classes and his hand-eye coordination in advanced billiards. Mohammad learned relaxation in Reiki classes while Anas got his feet moving in a busta groove dance class before taking it easy with massage therapy. The three also signed up for the popular gun shooting class. Outside of the classes, Mohammed, Anas and Mustafa were also able to meet with students and explore Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus. Ultimately they were able to clear up rumors that Qatar is little more than camels and sand. Anas says Pittsburgh students were as genuinely interested in learning about life in Qatar as he was in learning about Pittsburgh and life in America. Gilmore took another group of students to Pittsburghlast month for a service learning trip in which they participated in a variety of community service activities. Through these actions students had the opportunity to learn and share in ways not paralleled in the classroom, yet equally as important in the lifelong learning process.

APRIL 2005


LOOKING AHEAD Research part of strong future of Carnegie Mellon, Education City

Carnegie Mellon University is committed to providing an undergraduate education that includes exposure to cutting edge research. Similarly, the university is steadfast to affording its faculty opportunities to pursue research in their fields. And this is not just at the Pittsburgh campus, but in Qatar as well. Qatar Foundation has generous research support and funding available, and the Qatar Science and Technology Park is currently under construction. This massive technology park will serve as an incubator for research, provide laboratory space, offer seed and venture capital funds and serve as the research hub of Qatar as well as the entire Gulf region, says Des Ryan, QSTP business support manager. “Our goal is to help you,” Ryan says of the students and faculty of the five universities in Education City. QSTP’s mission is to respond to the immediate needs of industry and anticipate future necessities for development. This will help forge the sort of partnerships with industry and government that generated many exciting breakthroughs on our Pittsburgh campus. Students and faculty of Carnegie Mellon and other institutions in Education City will be able to work on research projects at QSTP. Researchers in computer science or robotics will be able to attain lab space and perhaps take their ideas or products and develop them into real-world business solutions. Seed funds and venture capital funds will be set up to help students grow and develop ideas, companies and technology. Researchers whose work does not require lab space will also be able to continue their work in Qatar and, if needed, receive funding and support. Jon Caulkins, Ph.D. and professor of operations research and public policy in the Heinz School, does research on optimal dynamic control theory and on practical problems pertaining to drugs, crime and violence and how policies affect those problems for many years. While the move to Qatar to teach and research in August 2005 drastically changed his environment, it has had little effect on his work. “I don’t need a lab to do my research, I just need an Internet connection,” he says. “So things haven’t changed a lot.” In some ways, he says, the research process has become a bit easier for him because his current funding

 akhbar APRIL 2005

does not have the same international travel restrictions that were attached to some of his U.S. funding. This has allowed him to meet with his many colleagues in Europe much more easily than in the past. And being in a Gulf Time Zone has allowed him and his colleagues around the globe to have 24-hour movement on the papers on which they are collaborating. He can pass a document off to a co-author in Washington, who can then send it to another co-author in Australia and return it back to Caulkins. Researchers who decide to come to Carnegie Mellon in Qatar may also find the warm climate, diverse culture and slower-paced lifestyle allow for the development and cultivation of new research ideas that may not have presented themselves in Pittsburgh. APRIL 2005




Freshman Basit Hasan Iqbal reaches out to his homeland Although he was born in Huntington, W.Va., freshman Basit Iqbal has spent nearly all of his life in Pakistan. In August of last year he left his home and moved to Qatar to attend Carnegie Mellon University. Like many students who move away from home to earn an education, Basit quelled his feeling of homesickness by watching television channels from his homeland. But the comfort familiar programs provided came to an abrupt halt on Oct. 8 when a 7.6 magnitude earthquake rocked northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and northern India. Suddenly Basit was inundated by video of entire regions being wiped out by the disaster. “It was so painful to watch. I was alone and I literally began crying,” he says. Basit quickly phoned home and found out his family was unharmed. However he was shocked by the news a longtime employee of his father’s restaurant and close family friend was killed. It was then that the earthquake touched him in a personal way.

Connections program provides internship opportunities for students

“I felt like the television was saying Basit come home, Basit we need you,” he says. While he was unable to go home, he knew he had to do something. He quickly sent out an e-mail to the staff, students and faculty of Carnegie Mellon asking them for help. He also placed posters around campus soliciting for donations. He says he didn’t know what kind of reaction he would get because, as he says, “it’s hard to do something for someone you don’t know.”

Apparently not everyone felt the same, though. Basit

was inundated with donations and personal notes. “Everyone was so kind, so sympathetic. And not just financially,” he says. “I didn’t expect a response like that.”

Officials from Qatar Foundation even helped spread

the word of Basit’s fund-raising efforts and before long the project took on a life of its own. Basit says he would have been happy receiving QR 400, because just one Riyal can buy a meal for two people. However his efforts yielded much more than he anticipated.

He has no official donation total, but estimates he

collected around QR 7,000 from Carnegie Mellon alone. The

In an increasingly competitive global society, today’s graduates must possess more than superior academic knowledge and a desire to succeed. They also must gain hands-on experience in the marketplace. To support students in their development of this crucial aspect of professional success, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar offers Connections. This program is designed to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships with local businesses. Through these partnerships, students will gain practical workplace skills and employers will contribute to shaping the future business leaders of Qatar. “Being able to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-life situations gives students an edge,” says Khadra Dualeh, Director of the Office of Professional Development and International Education, which is where internships are coordinated. Dualeh works closely with potential employers to develop the right internship opportunities for our students. This first-hand experience will give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to realworld situations. “We want the internship to be a positive experience for the students, especially when they haven’t done this before,” she says. Employers benefit from the program by experiencing the new work ideas, cutting-edge business theory and unlimited energy only a Carnegie Mellon student can provide. Plus companies gain the opportunity to evaluate a student’s skills, work ethics and assimilation into their organization’s culture. The internship can essentially function as a test period for both the company and for the potential future employee. Dualeh calls the program a “win-win.”

money was used to help hundreds if not thousands of people who were left with nothing. Through it all Basit has remained modest about his efforts and says he did nothing special. He simply had a “natural reaction” to a devastating event.

10 akhbar APRIL 2005

APRIL 2005

akhbar 11


Students explain their ideas at robotics poster session

Designing algorithms and autonomous robots may be all in a day’s work for computer science students, but explaining how they work to those outside the field can pose quiet a challenge. But sophomores in the Autonomous Robots class taught by Drs. Brett Browning and Bernardine Dias rose to the occasion in December for the end-of-semester poster session. Sixteen students seized the opportunity to present a poster describing their final individual projects. Each had already learned how to give a technical presentation and this poster session allowed them to present a technical topic to a mixed audience. “It was intended as an opportunity for the students to show off what they had been doing, and also for them to gain experience in explaining their work to a poster session audience - where there is a mix of technical and nontechnical people,” says Browning. Computer science student Amer Obeidah says he found it very interesting to be able to explain how his robot worked and why he chose to apply a very difficult algorithm. He also enjoyed talking about the potential real-world uses for his robot and getting feedback on his idea. The event drew quite a crowd and seemed to be a learning experience for both the students taking the class and those who attended. Many parents attended the session and commented on how the staff and faculty of Carnegie Mellon were “teaching their children how to think.” And, as Browning says, the event finally showed parents the outcome of their child’s many months of hard work and dedication.


Three-story atrium will be heart of Carnegie Mellon building

At a quiet table in the assembly area, two students enjoy large mugs of steaming coffee while studying for an exam; across the way, a professor and student bump into each other and engage in a spontaneous discussion about the score of yesterday’s football game; in the food court, a group of faculty from around the building come together to enjoy a good meal and lively conversation. These and other serendipitous encounters were the driving force behind the design of the three-story atrium in the new Carnegie Mellon building. “It’s where the Carnegie Mellon community – students, faculty, staff and our Education City neighbors – will routinely come together,” says Kevin Lamb, assistant dean for planning and operations. At the core of the building, the atrium will be filled with natural light and made up of three distinct areas: the food court, the assembly area and the walkway. Each area will have its own function yet they will come together to form a grand unified space. Water features, trees, comfortable seating and the massive art wall combined with a robust palate of colors will create a warm and inviting space. The glass ceiling and glass doors at either end of the expansive walkway will bring the outdoors inside thus creating a living atmosphere. Additionally, Lamb says, the atrium will give Carnegie Mellon a pronounced identity as an integral part of the Education City community.

12 akhbar APRIL 2005

APRIL 2005

akhbar 13

Next time you’re considering chowing down a few donuts or taking the elevator up one measly flight of stairs, better look over your shoulder first to make sure ‘Funke Ilori isn’t watching. As the director of health and wellness for Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Ilori is on a mission to encourage students, staff and faculty to develop and maintain healthy habits. Part of the way she does this is by holding monthly workshops, seminars and open booths to increase awareness about a wide range of health issues. “We want to develop well-rounded human beings that are healthy and better informed,” Ilori says. This is quite a lofty task in a world that is being overtaken by fast food chains and the inclination to drive everywhere instead of walk. But Ilori is not backing down. In January she kicked off the term with events focusing on physical, mental and emotional wellness. January also saw the beginning of the Fitness Challenge, whose objective is to challenge people to take either 10,000 steps or exercise at least 20 minutes a day, four days per week for 12 weeks. The overall goal of the program is to walk from Doha to Pittsburgh. Last year the Fitness Challenge participants walked enough steps to reach Algiers, Algeria, which is a bit less than half the journey. Ilori is confident the final steps to Pittsburgh will be reached by the end of this term. Heart health was the focus for February with a day devoted to keeping the ol’ ticker going strong; plus a culinary demonstration was held to demonstrate healthy food choices. March focused on nutrition and women’s health and April

Add it up

Focus on fitness Spring 2006

Black ‘n Gold pride sweeps Doha

is featuring events spotlighting health diversity between cultures. Since May is the end of the term, the highlighted topic will be stress and how to relieve it. A weeklong mini health fair will offer relaxation therapy, massage, alternative medicine and other ways to distress during such a hectic time. And seeing as all of Ilori’s programs are held on campus, during the day and are open to everyone, there are no more excuses for not being fit.

After-school math program being offered

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar has begun an after school math program to jump start eleventh graders who are enrolled in the arts track but think they may want to study business administration at the university. Carnegie Learning ® is designed to bring these students to the same level of mathematic proficiency as their fellow students who are in the science track. Admissions director Bryan Zerbe says many of the college programs that interest local students require them to have a strong base in mathematics, including pre-calculus, which arts track students do not have. This program may benefit those students in that they will improve their analytical skills, which will be needed if they are to find success in the quant-based curriculum of the business administration program at Carnegie Mellon Qatar or other demanding programs. Leslie Thorpe and Wesam El-Madhoun are teaching the classes, which are made up of approximately 20 students. Both spent a week in Pittsburgh training with Carnegie Learning ® in order to be certified to teach the classes. The program, which consists of four hours of instruction per week, began in February and is expected to run through June. If it is deemed successful, Zerbe says the program will be offered again.

14 akhbar APRIL 2005

Steeler Nation

Black and Gold have always been the official colors of Pittsburgh and during the winter months they slowly crept their way into the landscape of Doha. Okay, maybe just the landscape of Carnegie Mellon. It seems that just about every office had a Terrible Towel, Steelers banner or photo of Heinz Ward displayed to cheer on the team and its drive for that elusive fifth Super Bowl ring. And no showing of support was too great for these die-hard Steelers fans. About 30 black ‘n gold clad folks met up at Ahmed Husaine’s house early one Saturday morning to take a group shot along with a somewhat scared camel fashioning a Steelers beach towel. This photo made its way to Pittsburgh where it was posted on the Web sites of all three Pittsburgh television stations - WTAE, WPXI and KDKA. It was also posted on the Web sites of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Beaver County Times. And a few eagle-eyed viewers of WTAE’s and WPXI’s evening news programs saw it flash on screen during a broadcast. Loyal fans’ spirit and willingness to stay up all night to watch Super Bowl XL did pay off however, when the hometown team captured the Lombardi Trophy after a long, 26-year quest. Final score: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10.


Brownbag Series underway for Spring ‘06 term

The Spring 2006 term is in full swing and so is the Brownbag Series. This lunchtime lecture series is designed for Carnegie Mellon staff and faculty to stay informed on what is going on in all departments of the Qatar campus. Typically held on Wednesday, these lunches are informal and open to all who wish to attend. Mark Stehlik, visiting teaching professor and assistant dean for undergraduate education in Pittsburgh, opened the series on Feb. 7 with a discussion on the Computer Science curriculum, its origin, philosophy and niche. Cyndi Mills, chief information officer, gave the technical version of her RIPE talk about security on Feb. 22. John Robertson, director of undergraduate programs, presented the curriculum of the business administration program in March. Speakers will continue on Wednesdays throughout the rest of the semester, so mark your calendar. As of print, all Brownbag Series talks will be held in Room A166. Changes in room will be announced via e-mail. UPCOMING SEMINARS -April 12 -April 26 -May 10

APRIL 2005

akhbar 15

2006/07 FACULTY & STAFF New faculty & staff for the Spring 2006 term Staff news

Hassan Rom Hassan Rom is a senior in computer science with a double major in electrical and computer engineering. This term he will serve as a course assistant for Great Theoretical Ideas in Computer Science and Advanced Programming Practicum. He is also hoping to hope to start a Linux users club at CMU-Q.

J. Patrick McGinnis

New staff joining the Carnegie Mellon Qatar campus are Jumana Al Abdi, Community Advisor; Dina Al Baradee; Administrative Assistant; Roula Albradee, Accountant; Shadi Afaneh, IT Support; Resil Barcelo, Administrative Assistant; Brian Gallew, Systems Manager, Lily Muzame, Administrative Assistant; Connie Ramadan, Orientation administrator; Andrea Zrimsek, Marketing and Public Relations Associate

Patrick McGinnis has been teaching business communications in the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business for six years. He is in Doha for the Spring 2006 term to teach business communications and oral communications to business administration students.

Jessica Mink Faculty news Marion Oliver Ph. D. accepts new role

In addition to his ongoing work as a professor of mathematics, Marion Oliver, Ph.D. has agreed to take on the job of Special Assistant to the Dean of Faculty Development. In this new role, Oliver will work with Dean Chuck Thorpe to provide support on a wide range of faculty issues. His most immediately visible contribution will be in organizing faculty orientation at the beginning of each semester. He will also be assisting Dean Thorpe with faculty course evaluations, providing assistance to faculty on class management and work with freshmanlevel course support.

Yonina Cooper Yonina Cooper is a professor emeritus of the School of Computer Science at University of Nevada Las Vegas. She has also taught computer science and mathematics at University of Kansas, University of Wisconsin and University of Texas. While at Carnegie Mellon’s Qatar campus she will be teaching computer programming.

16 akhbar APRIL 2005

Jessica Mink is a junior at Carnegie Mellon with a computer science major and a math minor. This semester she will be the teaching assistant for the concepts of math and matrix algebra courses.

Mark Stehlik Mark Stehlik is a Teaching Professor and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He teaches the first and second year computer science courses and advises students in the computer science undergraduate program. He is at the Qatar campus for the first half of this term.

Menna Mulugetta Menna Mulugetta is a junior studying business administration in the Tepper School at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. She is concentrating in the areas of finance and marketing. During her semester in Qatar, she will be a course assistant for business communications as well as models and methods of optimization.

Akhbar, Spring 2006  
Akhbar, Spring 2006