Meet Professor Sanad Aburass, who received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Jordan and arrived at MIU in April 2022. He and his family love the MIU environment and plan to stay for a very long time. Professor Sanad recommends the Masters of Software Development (MSD) program to anyone who wants to become a proficient programmer within 12 to 18 months, and guarantees they can do it. Learn why Professor Sanad sees a long future for himself and his family here in Fairfield, Iowa, and why he believes this is the school for you.
“I would encourage anyone who wants to learn programming to come to MSD. I am sure that even with zero or minimal background you will become a good programmer who is ready to work for any company in the United States.
The programs we offer are taught by professionals who are proficient programmers with many years of experience. We know what we are teaching and give you all of our experience in a nutshell, in a span of three to four weeks in each subject.” ~ Professor Sanad Aburass
Interview by Christine Albers (CA)
CA: It’s wonderful that you are so enthusiastic about teaching the Masters of Software Development (MSD) program. What inspires you most about your MSD students?
Professor Sanad: I love them. The MSD students are unique because they come to us with no background in computer science or programming, and they become really good programmers in 12 to 18 months. They do it because they are dedicated and focused. They are organized and solve all their assignments. It takes many years for most people to become good programmers, and I’m amazed that they learn in such a short period of time. For students who didn’t know how to program from the beginning, that’s impressive.
CA: What courses do you teach and what do you love about teaching?
Professor Sanad: I teach Algorithms and Object-Oriented Programming. I started out as a high school teacher and supported my family as a teacher while I studied for my Master’s degree and then my Ph.D. in Computer Science. I had seven years of active teaching while I was in graduate school. When I graduated, I had many job offers but I realized that what I love best is teaching. I love explaining theory, computer science concepts, programming, and how to program. I love simplifying any complex concept. And I like to engage the students. My class is always active. They are asking many questions, and I am picking their brains, asking why do you think this is important, why do we do that? Over the years I’ve found that it’s very important to keep the class lively.
CA: What do you like best about the MSD program? What makes it attractive to students?
Professor Sanad: I love the block system. It’s really amazing. I don’t know why other universities don’t use it because it makes it so much easier for the students to focus and learn. Having 4 or 5 subjects at one time is exhausting for students and teachers. With the block system, they get the time to go in-depth and concentrate on one subject at a time and not get distracted.
Also in MSD, the fact that we are able to teach students who have no programming background is really impressive. We literally take them from zero to hero, from zero experience to gaining a great job.
We work hard to make the courses interesting and real-life oriented. The situations we teach are like programs they might be working on in real life. For example, at the end of each course, they do professional-style projects and that is impressive. They create a project as if it were for a company. Sometimes it’s in the last week, so basically, they have 2 or 3 days to complete the projects, and their work is amazing.
CA: Let’s circle back to the beginning of your journey here from Jordan. How did you hear about MIU and the MSD program?
Professor Sanad: My friend, Professor Muhyieddin Al-Tarawneh, is a faculty member at MIU and he recommended me to the Dean of Faculty and the Academic Administrator, Peter Vonderheide. I sent them my CV and they interviewed me and accepted me.
CA: What was your experience when you first landed on campus?
Professor Sanad: I arrived with my wife, Maha, and our two children, Rafi and Naya, in April 2022. It was easy for us because the administration told us everything about Fairfield, such as what to do and what to bring. I didn’t have a car so my friend Muhyieddin drove us to get groceries. Having a friend was really important for us because we were new and in a foreign country.
We loved it here from the first day. We live on campus and it’s so safe and everyone is very friendly. It’s amazing when we go to lunch at the cafeteria in the Argiro building. Everyone knows our youngest child, Naya, who is 10 months old. She’s the baby on campus and gets so much attention and loves it. We are all very happy here and plan to stay. I can really see myself teaching here for the next 20 to 30 years.
CA: What do you like best about teaching here at MIU?
Professor Sanad: The atmosphere here is so friendly and encouraging. As computer science faculty we have the freedom with our courses to get the job done, as long as we know what we are doing, and we are doing it correctly. That’s something we wouldn’t see in other universities. It’s totally different there, where the administrators tell the faculty what to do. Here at MIU, it’s like you don’t have a boss and no one will interfere with your job as long as you do your job correctly.
CA: Do you have any advice for students who are considering coming to MSD?
Professor Sanad: I would encourage anyone who wants to learn programming to come to MSD. I am sure that even with zero or minimal background you will become a good programmer who is ready to work for any company in the United States.
The programs we offer are taught by professionals who are proficient programmers with many years of experience. We know what we are teaching and give you all of our experience in a nutshell, in a span of three to four weeks in each subject.
CA: I understand that all the students and faculty learn the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program when they arrive here. Have you learned TM yet? Have you noticed any benefits?
Professor Sanad: I learned TM in Egypt. I’m from Jordan and we didn’t have any TM Centers so I had to fly to Egypt to learn TM. I enjoyed it because it felt like a spiritual journey.
I notice that I’m more relaxed and organized. In my personal life, I’m less stressed, more relaxed, and happier. I think I have a new perspective on life. And TM has also affected my professional life. After learning TM, I found I could read two or three computer science books in a month. This requires a lot of focus and was something I couldn’t do before TM.
CA: Do you think the students like their TM practice?
Professor Sanad: We do 20 minutes in my class twice a day. From what I can see, they take their TM seriously. I never had to deal with any student who doesn’t want to do TM with us. If someone had a problem they would probably be on their phones or would leave class when we start.
Although no one has told me personally about their TM, we do an evaluation of each course and there is a section about how TM affects their life. Most of them check off “agree” or “strongly agree.”
CA: Is there anything else you would like to say to prospective MSD students?
Professor Sanad: I would like to say to everyone who is considering joining our MSD program, don’t worry, we will take good care of you. I promise.