Hossam Shoman

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Reconfigurable silicon photonics: Controlling and Stabilizing Tunable Filters, Switches, Modulators, and Lasers
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

The first reason sounds cliche, but both of my parents are very well educated and have higher education degrees, so it was almost by default that their offsprings would pursue a similar track in life. The second reason is that I like exploring new topics and learning new things. The PhD program gives me a chance to do both and, in addition, showcase my skills and passion in writing technical articles that we publish through the journey. In addition, I feel I benefit humanity by solving some of the problems in my field and sharing it with the world.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I applied to UBC because I wanted to work with my current advisor, Lukas Chrostowski. He happened to be at UBC. However, later I realized how choosing UBC (and Canada in general) was indeed one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

Independent learning and the chance to collaborate with my fellow colleagues. We learn a lot from each other. In addition, the transfer of credits from my masters into my PhD was a huge plus since it gave me the chance to focus more on my research.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

Nature and mountains! I was fascinated and surprised by the beauty of the mountains and the scenic routes up in North Vancouver. It is a beautiful and vibrant city that never kept me bored. I love sports and Vancouver is the best place to practice all sorts of sports all year round. In summer I can hike, bike, jog, and surf, and in winter I can ski.

I chose UBC and my PhD program for the opportunity to learn independently and the chance to collaborate with my fellow colleagues.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I enjoy reading technical papers and testing out new ideas. I like to fill in the knowledge gaps that I have and always learn more. I also enjoy conducting experiments in the lab and showering off my endless doubts.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

Three things. 1) Trying to always maintain a balance between expanding my knowledge and actually applying it. 2) Keeping up with the trends and adapting to different working topics and environments. 3) Maintaining excellent communication and presentation skills, and engagement with others. The latter is so important as it is key for innovation in teamwork.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

The ECE program at UBC is indeed trying its best to make us well-rounded graduates. They offer workshops (even multi-days ones) that try to keep us ahead of others. They connect us with alumni who have been through the same path and give them the chance to share their experiences with us. I recall two vital workshops: 'Instructional skills workshop' and the 'pathway-to-professorship', that aimed to prepare those who'd like to pursue an academic career in their future. These two workshops are very well-formed as they deliver not only knowledge to their participants, but also personal experiences from the lecturers, which is priceless.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

Several aspects. My parents always emphasized on the commonly known translated Latin phrase: 'A healthy mind in a healthy body'. They taught me how to become an independent learner and always try to achieve goals. They pushed me to play sports and excel in my studies. I used to be at the top of my class and earn awards. I felt confident and well-prepared to kick off from there to a new journey abroad. UBC warmly welcomed me, and I felt at home because I was able to enhance my skills, meet new people who soon became my friends. My friends are also a great part of the game because they believed in me and supported me through some hard times as well.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Sports: hiking, swimming, and skiing.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Well, since you have already made it to grad school, then you have figured lots in life, congratulations thus far. But wait, there is still a long way to go. Try to always explore new things, and chose a destination based on 1) the topic that you would like to work on, 2) the advisor that you'd like to work with, and also 3) the place that you would like to spend the next few years at. All these factors, if balanced correctly, can potentially enhance your graduate studies experience.


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