Hossam Shoman

Reconfigurable silicon photonics: Controlling and Stabilizing Tunable Filters, Switches, Modulators, and Lasers

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Two reasons: 1) 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 through solving some of the problems in my field and sharing it with the world. 2) My parents are both educated and have higher education degrees, so it was almost by default that their offsprings would pursue a similar track in life.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I applied to UBC because of wanting to work with my advisor. He happened to be at UBC. However, later I realized how choosing UBC was indeed one of my best choices made in 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. Regarding my program, 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?

I was fascinated and surprised by the beauty of the mountains and the scenic routes up in North Vancouver. It is a beautiful relaxing city. I also love sports and Vancouver is the best place to practice all sort of sports all year round. In summer I can hike, bike, jog, and surf, and in winter I can ski.

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 the hands-on experience while doing experiments in the lab.

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

Trying to always maintain a balance between technical knowledge and soft skills, such as communication, presentation, and engagement with others.

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

The ECE program 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 experience with us. I recall one vital workshop: 'Instructional skills workshop', that aimed to prepare those who'd like to take the academic career path.

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 kickoff 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?

Try to always explore new things, and chose a destination based on 1) the topic that you'd like to work on, 2) the advisor that you'd like to work with, and also 3) the place that you'd like to spend the next few years at. All these factors, if balanced correctly, can potentially enhance your graduate studies experience.