Monday, October 11, 2010

2010-10-11: A Blast from the past: My road to Ws-Dl!

Hello everyone, I am Hany SalahEldeen, a PhD student in my first year and I am honored to be a new member of the Ws-Dl group at Old Dominion University and supervised by Dr. Michael Nelson.

I have been in the group for a couple of months now so I thought I should introduce myself and give a background summary on my career before Ws-Dl because I believe if you didn't know where you were, you will never know where you are going.

I received my BSc. in Computer Systems Engineering at Alexandria University, Egypt in 2008. My graduation project entitled "VOID: The web-based integrated development environment" was selected to win the first prize in the graduation projects competition in the University for year 2008. For the last 2 years of my degree I was working in a software company back home called eSpace technologies, I worked in developing systems using Ruby on Rails, and was one of the members who developed Neverblock (an open source project to enable easy development of non-blocking concurrent code.) along with fellow student and friend Mostafa Aly who is also in the Ws-Dl group.

I started my masters program in Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain. I worked in CVC (the Computer vision center) in the colour group under the supervision of Robert Benavente, Maria Vanrell and Joost Van de Weijer, and on July 2009 I defended my thesis entitled "Colour naming Using Context-Based learning through a Perceptual Model", published a paper and the second is still under development. In a nutshell we were able to create a parametric model for the Lab color space based on psychophysical experiments using real life images in the machine learning process to reach a better model near to human perception of color in context. In August 2008 I participated in the CVC team competing in PASCAL VOC2009 image classification world challenge in Kyoto, Japan and won 2 gold medals.



In September 2009 I started my internship at Cairo Microsoft Innovation center "CMIC" working on creating recommendation systems based on social networks with Nayer Wanas and wrote a paper which is under review. Also performed a study that the research center presented by CMIC's director Tarek Alabady to the minister of communication and information technology Tarek Kamel in December 2009.

In January 2010 I arrived Norfolk and started my first semester at ODU. Later in the same month I was invited by Google to attend the 2010 Google Grad CS Forum. An all-paid trip from Norfolk to San Fransisco including two day stay at Hilton downtown, who can say no?! Hanah Kim the University Programs Specialist contacted me giving me the details and the agenda.

On the 21 I was with 82 other fellow PhD students from all over the states attending the opening reception hosted by Alfred Spector, Google's VP of Research and Special Initiatives. He discussed with us several topics and answered all our questions. Surrounded by all these brilliant minds. I was so proud to represent old Dominion University in this prestigious event. Early next day a shuttle came to take us to the GooglePlex. There, Marissa Mayer, VP Search Products & User Experience welcomed us and gave along with Kevin McCurley, Research Scientist an amazing keynote and answered all our questions in regards to research in Google, publishing, research in the industry in general. After that we were taken on a tour around the humongous GooglePlex campus. The tour took more than an hour and yet we just skimmed some of the public areas (some areas are restricted to outsiders and guests).

After lunch, some of the students in their final years of their PhD were selected to give presentations about their work, which was definitely enlightening. After that we had two Tech-Talks, the first was by Hector Gonzalez, Research Scientist, in which he described to us new briefly techniques in extremely Large Scale data collaboration and integration. The second was by T.V. Raman, Research Scientist, which I think was the most amazing talk I attended in a long time. T.V. is blind, but he leads one of the biggest accessibility teams at Google and he specializes in auditory user interfaces and structured electronic documents.

Finally there were some round tables with scientists from different fields who gladly answered our questions. Andrea frome which leads one of the teams in Google Maps specialized in Street View described to us her work and answered all our questions. Later that day we had dinner in an amazing Italian restaurant in the heart of San Fransisco named Palio d'Asti. The next day I flew back to Norfolk.

That was a quick snapshot of the highlights in my career before Ws-Dl, I joined in february of 2010. I hope this post wasn't too long!

For more details check out my Blog and Website.

--Hany

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