Assist. Prof. Dr. Islam ELGEDAWY
Dear Mr. Elgedawy, can you please inform us about your academic background and your general interests?
I am originally from Alexandria-Egypt. I did my bachelor degree and my master at Alexandria University. My major is distributed computing. After I finished my master, I worked for Unilever Company; for five years as a software engineer. Then I migrated to Australia and did my PhD in service oriented computing at RMIT University. After that I joined IBM research in India. Finally I joined METU-NCC in 2008. I enjoy fishing, reading, any related sea activities, and of course I love programming and technology.
What do you think about your students’ interest in your lectures? Are they motivated or de-motivated? Are they keenly interested in learning new things or not?
I would classify my students into three categories. The first category I call them the champions, these guys are attending lots of classes and asking lots of questions. They have very good interaction. They are very highly motivated students and they usually get very good grades. The second group I call them the spectators. Usually they don’t attend that much and from time to time they have some kind of interaction. Their grades are about average. The third group I call them the tourists. They do not attend a lot of classes and from time to time they check on us to see how things are going, and usually they do not do that good.
As we all know, there is a significant difference between the entrance points of METU Northern Cyprus Campus (NCC) students and METU Ankara Campus students. Although this is the situation, the quality of education in both campuses are said to be the same. Do you believe that this situation results in a problem for NCC students, are they having difficulties with understanding your lectures? Based on your observations and your students’ grades, what would you say?
As we teach the same curriculum as Ankara, we expect the students to work very hard for that. This is not only a problem for the students, but also it is a problem for the teachers, as teachers at METU-NCC have to add extra effort and use more creative techniques to convey the information in an easier way to the students. I believe by having good and active collaboration between students and teachers, this problem could be simply overcome.
So there are not any problems related with the students?
I think the only problem I can see is that some students do not work hard enough like those in Ankara, where they spend lots of time in studying their courses. Here in Cyprus, I can see some students do not have a good balance between studying and other activities.
Can we say it is because of their entrance points or something?
No, no. I think entrance points do not say whether you are a bad student or a good student. They just indicate how hard working a student is. So I guess the students who get high marks, they are just committed to studying and doing lots of work and those who do not get good marks, I guess they are focusing on other things other than studying. I believe it is not about intelligence problem or something like that.
So it does not mean that if a student enters with a very high entrance point, he or she will be successful?
Not necessarily. It is just an indicator of how hard they can work, in my opinion. I can see students with very low entrance points and they did very well, so it is not about the points.
From your point of view, how well the social opportunities are in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and METU NCC itself?
I guess Cyprus is a small country so there isn’t much you can do around here but actually you can find lots of activities. For example we have lots of clubs in METU NCC so I guess the students will be trying to help each other to find that social life. Outside the university people are very nice of course, but it is not that big scale. For example our clubs are working on a local scope I don’t think they participate in international competitions. You will find that all the activities stop at the campus level or the Cyprus level.
Again, from your point of view, why should a candidate/prospective student consider METU NCC Computer Engineering? In other words, why should one choose CNG at METU NCC?
The advantage for METU-NCC is that we have a very good curriculum which is always updated. We have very good teachers, we have very good facilities and most importantly the class size is very small so actually you can have a lot of interaction with the teacher. The teacher knows every student in person, plus I guess the fees are affordable. Apart from that I guess the climate in Cyprus is very good and can be tolerated throughout the year, not like USA now, as you can see they have -20 these days… so we are not facing these kinds of problems.
If a student is considering to join either METU Ankara or METU NCC, would you advise them to join METU NCC?
If there are no other factors apart from the curriculum then I guess METU NCC is better. The classes are small and this is a very big advantage and you can have lots of interaction with the teachers. Also we have full scholarships for good students. I love the weather here in Cyprus in general, it is sunny most of the year. Unlike Ankara, which is freezing in winter.
Do you have any suggestions for students who consider attending CNG at METU NCC? What things should they be careful about before they make their final decision?
Some people learn by reading, some people learn by listening, but for computer students they have to learn by doing. Once you take in a new theory or a new algorithm you have to implement it on your computer. You have to love computers and coding. If you do not love coding what is the point of choosing computer engineering? So I guess if you love problem solving, if you are willing to get your hands dirty and do all the learning by doing, love coding, love machines and computers; this is a very good sign to join the program, otherwise I don’t think it will be suitable.