Shoaib Mohammed (Dubai, ‘16) is pursuing his Masters of Science from his dream University, Stanford University. Before starting his higher degree, Shoaib worked at Amazon as a Senior Software Development Engineer.
BITS to Stanford: Turning Dream into Reality
I always wanted to go to Stanford. As an undergrad, I would watch the online courses. and would be awestruck with the level of teaching and depth the professors would go into. I enjoyed taking the classes and found the coursework quite challenging. but also fun! All of this inspired a dream for me to go to Stanford. I wanted the experience of being in an environment surrounded by brilliant minds from all over the world. Most people think students here are just gifted. but that is far from the truth. The reason people are successful in their accomplishments is not that they are “just smart”. but rather that they “work hard”.
Growing up in a middle-class family, funding my tuition was difficult. The majority of my classmates underwent expensive coaching, while I self-studied through coursework. Seeing my parents struggle to finance, the tuition was especially challenging but at the same time strengthened my desire for free education. For the future, I have two goals: create a free education system and improve accessibility for people with special needs.
Free Education & Challenges
Building an open-source platform is completely dependent on the contribution from the community, which is not sustainable in the long -term. At the same time, having a paid platform limits the number of people getting access to education. So, I want to learn about creating a platform that makes sure the students get an education without worrying about the tuition fee.
In terms of the next steps, I am currently working in the graduate school of education, trying to help the reading abilities of students with dyslexia. I have gotten the chance to visit schools and see how kids go through tasks that target specific parts of the brain. Furthermore, I am also learning more about the logistics when it comes to partnerships by working with schools across California. This has been particularly helpful as it gives me both a technical and a business understanding.
Improving Accessibility for People with Special Needs
I noticed a gap in communication for people with hearing impairment.
According to some statistics published by CSD, approximately 70 million deaf-mute people around the world (1% of the world’s population) use sign language. Another report by WHO crunches the numbers to 466 million people. Although translation services are now available for more than 100 languages, sign language is still relatively unexplored. During my thesis, I did research on ASL Fingerspelling, which focuses on detecting letters in American Sign Language (ASL). I was able to build a model that successfully translates letters from ASL in real time.
Experience as a Developer at Amazon
I joined Amazon as a Software Development Engineer and worked for almost 2 years in the Machine Learning team based in Berlin and Germany. Amazon has been a great place to work. I always had constant support from my manager and team members. The amount of knowledge I would gain in a week or two would be something I would gain in a month somewhere else. Most of my work revolved around using cloud architecture, which taught me a ton about infrastructure as code and system design. Overall, I had a great time working there, and I grew a great deal as a developer.
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