Why Professor Sanad Envisions a Long Career with the Masters of Software Development

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?

Sanad and FamilyProfessor 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.

Professor Muhyieddin Al-Tarawneh and His Interactive Approach to Teaching

MSD is a great program. We have students who come with zero background and I tell them it’s possible after completing this 12 to 18-month program to find a good job as a software developer.

When they arrive, many MSD students don’t know how computers work and they have no idea about writing code. It’s amazing that they have no knowledge of computers and we start teaching from scratch. I teach them the fundamentals at the beginning of the MSD program and when I meet with them after a year when they are 2/3 finished, they are completely different people. They are talking about coding, databases, and complex material.

~ Professor Muhyieddin Al-Tarawneh 

Meet Professor Muhyieddin Al-Tarawneh Ph.D., who received his doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Jordan. Professor Dean, as he likes to be called, came to MIU’s MS in Computer Science program because he loved the inclusion of meditation in the program. He was impressed by the benefits for both students and faculty, such as helping the mind settle down and increasing the ability to focus and learn. He has a very interactive approach to teaching because his goal is to make sure every student in his class feels comfortable asking questions, and engaging in discussions, so they fully understand the subject.

Interview by Christine Albers

CA: Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview, Professor Dean. Let’s start from the beginning. How did you learn about MIU?

Professor Dean: I was at the University of Jordan working on my Ph.D. Thesis and planning to go to Saudi Arabia, but my plans changed when I chatted with a friend who graduated from the MS in Computer Science program (ComPro).  He told me about MIU’s computer science programs and their serious approach to meditation, called Transcendental Meditation. I was always obsessed with the idea of meditation because I had problems focusing and a scattered mind, thinking too many things at one time,  and I thought meditation might help settle my mind.  When I heard about MIU it was like hitting two birds with one stone because I could get a job at MIU and learn TM. So, I came here and I loved it as soon as I arrived.

CA: Did you get the benefits you hoped for?

Professor Dean: I practice TM daily because I receive so many benefits, and I share my benefits with my students because they like actual outcomes. I tell them about my previous sleeping problems due to always thinking, thinking. Sleeping was a hard task because I couldn’t stop my mind. But since I learned TM, I started sleeping.

Meditation also helps me absorb information while reading. I tell my students to try reading after meditation. Sometimes you’re reading a piece of paper without focusing, and not putting it together. With TM you are reading and processing at the same time.

Recently I finished my Ph.D. Research where I had to read multiple papers to get the idea and put it into one or two paragraphs. It requires extreme focus. In the past, I had to read each page once or twice, but it’s like magic when I meditate, because  I can read and go through it in one shot and get the concept. I’m the same person. Nothing changed in me. The only change is that I started meditating.

CA: It’s wonderful that you received such benefits from TM. How do your students like their TM?

Professor Dean: Most of my students like TM, and many love it. But some students come up to me and say, “Professor I don’t feel those benefits. I don’t feel anything.” I ask them, “Are you practicing TM daily?  Are you giving it a shot? If you’re not serious about it, you won’t see the benefits.”

I tell them to go and practice it twice a day for one month. If they trust the process of meditating twice daily, they will see the outcome. Practice every day for a month and then we will have a talk.  After a month, the student comes back and says he notices the benefits and feels more of an urge to practice meditation.

I explain to my students that if they think of a computer, the memory is inside the computer, and when it is stored on the hard disk it can be scattered. So, we introduce a process of defragging the memory, where the computer starts organizing the memory parts and puts them next to each other, so when you search for data it’s not all over the place.

Meditation is like defragging the mind, settling down, letting all the colliding thoughts settle down, and allowing the mind to become more orderly. Stop, give your mind a break, and let it recognize itself. We need some time to stop adding thoughts. When we calm down, we let go of those thoughts that accumulate in the mind.

CA: What’s your experience of teaching MSD students?

Professor Dean: This is my 10th year of teaching and my third year of teaching at MIU. I originally came to MIU to teach in the ComPro Department. Teaching ComPro requires half the work of teaching MSD because ComPro students already know the basics and they can start at a higher level. The MSD students have no background and this is also a Master’s level, so we have to start from zero.

With MSD, I am teaching the Standard Track foundational courses, which is the part I love. They are learning how a computer works and how to communicate with it before we explain the main subject.  From my point of view, a lot of professors can succeed in teaching people who are already experienced, but you have to be a professional educator to teach people with no background – to teach the foundations of knowledge.

One of the courses that I love is called “Problem-solving,” where they are learning how to think like a developer. This course is the phase where they completely start thinking in a different way. They start breaking down real-life systems to understand the variables, functioning algorithms, and all other aspects to make it a fully functional program.

CA: What is your philosophy of teaching?

Professor Dean: My philosophy of teaching, in general, is that students feel more comfortable if they can interact with each other and with their professors. I encourage my students to ask questions so I can explain. My lectures are not a one-way delivery. Some people just stand at the front of the room and lecture until the end of the class. I tell my students to raise their hands and ask anything as long as it’s relative. They shouldn’t be shy to ask simple questions and can ask anything about computers, such as network, security, operating systems, and coding. As a result, in my class, you will see every student raise their hand.

CA: What inspired you to teach in this interactive way?

Professor Dean: When I was a student, I was curious, and had many questions. Most of my questions were simple. I would ask my professor, why am I taking this course? Then I realized that most professors were offended because they thought I was questioning the course, but I just wanted to learn more.  Some students reach a level of understanding that indicates there is a gap in their knowledge, and if the professor doesn’t help him fill the gap, the students won’t continue learning at all.

I make it a point to answer all their questions and make sure that every student understands. I tell them I’m pretty competent, and I should be able to answer your questions, but if I don’t know the answer, I will simply look it up. When we get to a level where students are discussing and asking questions, that is when I feel I have reached the goal of education, the process of imparting knowledge to a group of individuals.

CA: What do you find is the most surprising aspect of software development for new students?  

Professor Dean: Writing code is much more involved than just following a few steps, it requires a lot of critical and logical thinking. Many students are shocked when they realize the deep level of engineering required for software development.  It’s not just writing instructions. The world nowadays has proven that this is one of the highest levels of engineering. Simple codes make decisions on resources that cost billions, and if a software developer writes something that works but is an inefficient code, it can cost a company millions of dollars.

CA: What advice do you have for students who want to take this program and become successful software developers?

Professor Dean: I would tell them that the IT field is challenging because our domain keeps evolving. My father is a professor in Accounting, but Accounting doesn’t evolve very frequently as a domain. Our domain keeps evolving and you have to be prepared for non-stop learning. This is not a program where you graduate and get a job and you’re done.  You have to keep on learning and get used to reading about the latest applications and developments.

Our Dean, Dr. Keith Levi, is still teaching coding. He is continuously learning because he likes what he’s doing. He’s interested and he wants to learn, regardless of age. You have to like problem-solving because with coding you are continuously breaking down problems and solving them. Some people don’t like solving problems. If you don’t embrace problem-solving and continuous learning, you may have difficulty with coding. You have to love coding, see the beauty in it, and you will succeed.

CA: Do you feel that the MSD program is preparing students to become competent software developers?

Professor Dean: MSD is a great program. We have students who come with zero background and I tell them it’s possible after completing this 12 to 18-month program to find a good job as a software developer.

When they arrive, many MSD students don’t know how computers work and they have no idea about writing code. It’s amazing that they have no knowledge of computers and we start teaching from scratch. I teach them the fundamentals at the beginning of the MSD program and when I meet with them after a year when they are 2/3 finished, they are completely different people. They are talking about coding, databases, and complex material.”

Cathy Gorini – A Mathematics Professor Who Teaches from Her Heart

Cathy Gorini – A Mathematics Professor Who Teaches from Her Heart

It’s a great pleasure to introduce Professor Cathy Gorini, who has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Virginia. Her Masters of Software Development (MSD) students say she deserves an award for being such an amazing professor who teaches from her heart and makes sure every student understands each lesson. Learn more about the role of mathematics in becoming an accomplished software developer, the consciousness-based approach to mathematics that Professor Cathy employs in her classes, and why she is such a wonderful teacher.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: What brought you to MIU, Cathy?

Cathy: I love talking about Mathematics, and sharing anything to do with Mathematics. After I learned TM, I noticed I was much better at Mathematics because I could think more clearly and deeply and focus better. When I heard about the university I thought, okay that’s it, that’s where I want to teach. It was instant. I knew this would be the best place for me. I wrote to Dr. Michael Weinless, who was Mathematics chair then, and told him I wanted to teach at MIU. I arrived here in 1978.

CA: Did you teach Math at other universities before coming to MIU?

Cathy:  I taught at the University of Virginia as a teaching assistant, and then at Pembroke State University in North Carolina, and Rhode Island College but I was struggling to connect with my students and help them understand Mathematics. After becoming a TM teacher in 1975, I realized I could explain mathematical concepts much more easily by including concepts from Consciousness-based education (CBE), but I couldn’t use CBE concepts there. I wanted to come to MIU where I could use CBE concepts and be a more effective teacher.

CA: Can you talk about Consciousness-based Education and Mathematics?

Cathy: Mathematics is abstract, so students have to be able to think at an abstract level. When they practice TM, their minds become familiar with deeper levels of thinking, and understanding Mathematics is easier. It has to do with the nature of Mathematics, which is abstract, so having direct access to those abstract levels makes all the difference.

CA: Do you notice a difference between MIU students versus students at other universities where you taught?

Cathy: The main difference is in terms of the depth of the student’s thinking. MIU students can understand abstract concepts more deeply and that is fulfilling for me as a teacher.

CA: What subjects do you teach?

Cathy: This year I taught two Discrete Mathematics classes for MSD students, one in December and one in June. I also teach Calculus to undergrads in mathematics, physics, and computer science, and also a course called Geometry for the Artist for art students.

CA: Why are MSD students learning Mathematics and how does it apply to becoming a Software Developer?

Cathy: It applies because the topics we cover are graph theory, set theory, logic, and Boolean algebra, and they are all used in computer science.

CA: Are they picking up these concepts easily?

Cathy: They pick the new concepts up easily because they all have very good educational backgrounds, with a lot of mathematics from their prior education.

CA: What inspires you about teaching MSD students?

Cathy: I’m impressed by my MSD students’ commitment to their studies and quality of life.  They work hard, have a great sense of community, and work well with each other.  They are dedicated and responsible students who ask relevant and probing questions in class. They are polite and kind to one another and they really want to develop their knowledge.

CA: Have you noticed that the practice of Transcendental Meditation is helping the students?

Cathy: We do a survey at the end of each class, and one question is about their TM practice. Almost all the students say that TM helps them in their studies and that understanding the connection between consciousness and mathematics gives them a deeper appreciation of the knowledge. I meditate with them in class during the whole course, so they get some solid experience of what it’s like to meditate regularly.

In the survey, we  also ask “What was your most significant experience during this course?” The majority of the students say that meditating in the group twice a day made a huge difference. One student said that daily meditation helped him acquire the knowledge to find all possibilities so that any problem can be solved.

In answering another survey question, “What aspect of the course would you keep?” most say they would keep the TM part because they’ve seen so much progress in themselves. That’s pretty good!

CA: Any advice for new MSD students?

Cathy: I would tell them that anyone who comes to this program will enjoy it and gain many benefits. However, it’s a big commitment because the MSD program is very demanding. My advice is, once you are here, take advantage of the consciousness program because it will absolutely help you in your studies.

CA: Any last comments?

Cathy: I know that many of our international students have been through a lot in their home countries but somehow, they were able to get here, and they have a wonderful opportunity to create a better life. It makes me so happy to know they will get great jobs, contribute to society and take good care of their families. It’s a pleasure to teach them.

The Joy of Teaching at MIU – interview with MSD Professor Unubold Tumenbayar

Professor Unubold Tumenbayar graduated from MIU’s Master’s in Computer Science Professionals program (ComPro) in 2019 and landed a great job as a Java developer where he advanced his skills by working on multi-regional global applications in the Cloud. He returned to MIU in 2021 to teach students attending the MSD (Masters in Software development) program and ComPro. “The main thing I brought to MSD and Compro was Cloud-computing, and I also teach React and Database,” he says. But it’s the joy of living and teaching at MIU that inspired Unubold to return. Let’s learn more about Unubold and why he loves teaching aspiring computer professionals.

Interview by Christine Albers

CA: Can you tell us about your academic and computer science background?

Professor Unubold: I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2017 from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. It’s the biggest university in Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital city.

In Mongolia,  university students can choose their subjects so I took most of my classes in the first three years.  In my senior year, I had lots of free time so I worked at Axis-Systems as a Java Developer, so I was already working with Java while I was at the university in Mongolia.

CA: What inspired you to become a student at MIU?

Professor Unubold: In my last year at the university, in 2017, since I already had experience in Java, I thought, what’s next? Then in June, Professor Greg Guthrie came to the university and spoke to the students. He was the reason I came to MIU’s Computer Science program. I had applied to other universities, but after meeting Professor Guthrie and his wife in Mongolia, I was ready to go to MIU and I submitted my application immediately.

I joined Compro in October 2017 and everything started from there. I had lots of experience in software development, but this was different. I took MIU’s first Data Science Track because I wanted to learn something new.

CA: Did you find a good job when you finished ComPro?

Professor Unubold: I finished ComPro in 2019 and worked as a Java Developer at Sterling, which is headquartered in NY, but I worked in the Seattle branch.  During the interview for that job, I told them about MIU and the Big Data I learned here and that made them want to hire me because that technology was new. It was a great company to work in. They have an architecture team that does research and initiates technology improvement because new technologies give them an advantage.

I was at Sterling for 2 ½ years and it was there that I learned Cloud technologies, which provides a lot of opportunities for businesses and can make a big difference in our industry. If we look at job descriptions in the US, most of them will say it’s nice to have cloud experience. I knew this, but many developers didn’t know how cloud technologies make their jobs easier, so my goal was to help them learn these high-demand skills.  At first, I was only helping Mongolian developers, but then I realized that the MIU computer science students need to learn Cloud computing as well and I wanted to help them.

CA: How did you get the opportunity to join MIU Faculty?

Professor Unubold: Last April 2021, Professor Peter Vonderheide sent all the ComPro graduates an email announcing positions for professors for MSD (MIU’s Masters in Software Development program) and ComPro, and by May I was working here. One of the main reasons I joined MIU faculty is because I looked at the curriculum and the subjects that are taught, and I saw that they are practical. They are the kind of subjects anyone would want to learn in order to be a proficient software developer. And the environment at MIU is so peaceful and friendly.

CA: Transitioning from working a full-time job in Seattle to teaching computer science at MIU is a big change. How are you enjoying your teaching career?

Professor Unubold: Teaching is completely different from working in the field. I’ve been teaching for 6 or 7 months now, but when I think about the way I was teaching in the beginning, I realize how naïve I was. We taught Cloud computing for the first time, and everything was brand new technologies, so the first students felt overwhelmed. Then, on the last day of the course, I was able to pull it all together for them, and they told me, “Now it all makes sense.”

CA: What have you learned that makes you a better teacher?

Professor Unubold: I learned that when it comes to teaching it is vitally important to understand the audience, (the students). I need to be aware of how much experience they have and how much they don’t have and teach accordingly. You can’t prepare one course syllabus for all classes, because every class is different with students who vary in how much knowledge they have. I am always updating my courses based on my experience with the students.

CA: When you talk about teaching at MIU, you express a lot of joy. What is it about teaching that gives you so much happiness?

Professor Unubold:  Many things make me happy here. First of all, I enjoy the interaction with the students. I love teaching in person, in class, because I feel the atmosphere. I explain the concept and look at the students and I look at their eyes. You feel it if they understand or if they are confused, even if they don’t speak up, and I can see clearly by the look in their eyes whether they understand or not.

Another joy is when the students come to me and say how interesting the course was and they are thankful for all they learned.

I also enjoy the freedom I have here because there’s enough time to look into other new technologies that I want to teach. I was in the industry a year ago which means I  can help the students more because I know what works and what doesn’t, but there’s always new knowledge coming out. Learning the latest technologies allows me to keep the students up to date so that when they go out into the field they perform better.

CA: What do you like best about teaching MSD students?

Professor Unubold: I notice the determination in MSD students. They put everything into their studies. They are really serious about the program and being successful, and they work very hard. Software engineering requires more hard work than other careers and after my classes, I know my students will do well in the industry.

CA: Can you comment on why you are confident that your students will be ready for good jobs when they graduate?

Professor Unubold: I am super confident that they will be ready to handle a software development position when they graduate. I am running their final projects and when I see the results, it’s very impressive, as they develop a whole application from scratch, from A to Z, frontend to backend. Plus, during this final project, they research a new technology, and they integrate the project with new technology and Cloud services.

My first class already graduated, and one of my students contacted me on LinkedIn and said his technical interview was easy because he had already learned it in class.

CA: How do you feel about TM in your life and for the students?

Professor Unubold: I encourage students to practice TM because it helped me when I was a student. Meditation helped me stay focused and retain the knowledge. When I do TM, I feel more energized, it feels like I have more power.

CA: Do you have any advice for students who are applying for MSD?

Professor Unubold: I would tell them that they will learn lots of new knowledge, every day of the course. They can expect to get overwhelmed, but on graduation day they will feel like they are born again.  To me, the results of the final project demonstrate that they are software engineers because it pulls together everything they learned during the whole 12 to 18 months. They made it!

Why Professor Thao Huy Vu Wants to Share His 20 Years of Experience With MSD Students

Professor Thao MSDProfessor Thao Huy Vu, from Viet Nam, comes to the Masters of Software Development (MSD) faculty with 20 years of software engineering experience, including a distinguished career in software development, and the establishment of his own successful company in Viet Nam. He chose to join the MSD faculty with a sincere desire to share his knowledge with students and because he loves the MIU environment. Read more to learn about his wonderful journey to MIU as a former student and now a faculty member.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: Can you tell us about your childhood in Viet Nam and how it prepared you for a career in software engineering?

Professor Thao: I was born in a very poor farming area in Vietnam, however, I loved studying math when I was in elementary school and all through high school. I was always the best math student in my school and received several national awards for impoverished and talented students. Before attending Ho Chi Minh University, I did not even know what a computer was, I just knew that I wanted to become an engineer and that information technology was the hottest major at that time. After a year of college, I found that I loved programming.  I studied very hard and got a job as a software engineer when I graduated.

CA: What was your educational and professional background before coming to the USA?

Professor Thao: I received my BS in 2007 with a degree in Information Technology from Ho Chi Minh University of Technology. After graduation, I worked two years for a software company and then received a full scholarship to conduct research about computer networks at Myongji University in South Korea. I wrote a paper about Fault Tolerant Ethernet, which was published in the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) journal, regarding connecting to the internet if there is a problem with the Ethernet connection.

After finishing my Master’s Degree at Myongji University, I worked for a software company in South Korea where I was on a team that developed medical imaging software. I was one of the first people working on that project and I stayed for 4 ½  years. Our software was accepted for purchase in Korea and China, scheduled to sell in Japan and Europe, and finally, accepted by the FDA to sell in the USA.

CA: You had quite a distinguished career in South Korea. What inspired you to come to MIU and join the Computer Science Program (ComPro)?

Professor Thao: After I finished developing the medical imaging software, I didn’t see any more challenges. I wanted to learn more about software development and since the US is the origin of software engineering, I wanted to come here to study.

A friend told me about MIU’s Computer Science (ComPro) program. He had friends who graduated from ComPro and got great jobs developing software in companies like Microsoft and this was very motivating for me. I thought, this is my chance, so I applied for ComPro and became a student in 2015.

CA: Did you notice any benefits from practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) while you were a student and in your career?

Professor Thao: I had 10 years of software experience prior to arriving at MIU, and it was a very demanding career. Software engineering can be stressful and requires a lot of effort, and I couldn’t find a way to handle that. When I saw that TM was offered at MIU, I hoped it would help me relax and I was encouraged to become a student. I practiced TM regularly and it helped me focus and stay rested throughout the Computer Science program, which is a pretty intensive course. I am still a software engineer, and I love developing. TM allows me to relax and get deep rest so I can enjoy coding without the stress and fatigue.  

CA: Did you get that great job you were seeking, when you graduated with the MS in Computer Science?

Professor Thao: Yes, when I finished ComPro, I got a job as a Software Engineer with Operation Technology, Inc. in California for a year, then I moved to Thesys CAT LLC, a subsidiary of Thesys Technologies LLC, in New York. After a year at Thesys Technologies, I decided to go back to Viet Nam and create my own startup business, and within 2 years I developed an e-commerce system and launched my own company.

CA: How did you go from starting your own company in Viet Nam to joining the Masters of Software Development faculty at MIU?

Professor Thao: Last year I received an invitation from MIU to be an instructor in the Masters of Software Development department. I was able to accept the position because I had set up the technical part of my company in Viet Nam and my co-owner was able to run the company with the software I developed.  Technology is growing fast, and even faster since Covid, so many companies are shifting from using humans to using software to run their business, and our company is a perfect example of that.

CA: When did you arrive at MIU to teach the MSD courses?

Professor Thao: I came to MIU in July 2021 and assisted several MSD professors in teaching web application programming, mobile programming, cloud computing, and final projects. In March 2022, I will teach my first course in Server-Side Programming. This is great because I have experience in this field and used this technology in my work at each of my workplaces so I look forward to sharing my knowledge.

CA: How does it feel to be back at MIU?

Professor Thao: I’m excited to teach computer science to MSD students as I have 20 years of experience in the industry and I want to share everything I’ve learned. Plus, I like the environment at MIU because it is peaceful, friendly, and international. I feel like this is my home now and hope I can stay a long time, and that motivates me to do well in my job.

CA: How do you like teaching MSD students?

Professor Thao: I like the MSD students because they are all mature professionals and serious students. I want to transfer my knowledge to them in my courses and it’s interesting because they don’t have a background in computer science, so I have to think twice about how to teach them. I have to explain everything in a common language, which is a bit of a challenge, but it is very satisfying when they understand.

CA: Can you comment about the uniqueness of JavaScript and why it is the primary language taught in the Masters of Software Development program?

Professor Thao: JavaScript is the leading programming language in the world, plus it is easy to learn, which reduces the learning curve. In the past, it was only used on the front end of applications, but in recent years, the environment started using JavaScript for entire applications, both front end, and back end. For example, to work in Full Stack, we don’t need to hire two people because the back end also uses JavaScript. So, JavaScript is best for the new architecture, called microservices, which means that a big application can be divided into many small applications and each area is completely independent.

CA: What was it like, teaching during Covid?

Professor Thao: With MSD students, I prefer that they come to class in person so I can work closely with them, see their coding immediately, and help correct any mistakes. We practice social distancing and everyone wears masks in the classroom. However, if a student is unhealthy, they can take the class online until they recover, so everyone is able to attend classes and not fall behind.

CA: What do you think is special about the MSD program?

Professor Thao: There are many special things about the MSD program. First,  the technical curriculum contains all the courses needed to cover the basic and fundamental knowledge of computer science. Secondly, the block system, where all the courses are taught one at a time, in one-month segments, helps them understand the fundamentals and gradually learn newer technologies. By the time they finish the program they have everything they need to know and the latest technologies for the market. Thirdly, I like the university’s system of using TM to improve the students’ awareness and ability to focus, which will help them expand their knowledge of technology.

CA: Can you expand on the benefits of practicing TM for the students?

Professor Thao: As you know, technology is changing very fast. Software developers must expand their knowledge almost every day. In the software industry, if programmers don’t expand, they go backward. To move forward, they will need a tool like TM in the workplace, so they can stay rested and fresh, have clear and focused minds, and continue to advance their technical knowledge.

CA:  Do you have any advice for students who are considering applying to the MSD program?

Professor Thao: I would tell new students that technology is our future and software development will require more and more software engineers in the market over time. If you want to change your career and become a software developer, and you are ready to put the effort and commitment into this program, now is the time to do it.  

MSD is an intensive program, but MIU provides three vital ways for students to succeed: 1) a curriculum with all the knowledge needed to become a proficient software developer,  2) an environment conducive for gaining that knowledge, and 3) the tools to develop consciousness so you can absorb and retain the knowledge and grow in self-development.

It’s a wonderful program, our graduates are getting great jobs, and we are here to help them every step of the way.  

Kay Hazen: The Force Behind the Masters in Software Development

Kay Hazen MSDMeet Kay Hazen, the dynamic Program Manager for MIU’s Masters of Software Development (MSD)program.  Kay has a strong business and educational background, including working in Career Strategies for the MS in Computer Science (ComPro) for several years before joining MSD. Currently, Kay wears two hats, as both MSD Program Manager and Director of the MSD Career Strategies Workshop. With her solid experience and diverse skills, we are fortunate to have Kay onboard.  Let’s learn about Kay and all she does to ensure the success of the MSD program and its graduates.

Interview by Christine Albers (CA)

CA: What are your responsibilities as Program Manager for MSD?

Kay: I make sure the program runs fluidly; from advertising to reviewing student applications, to making sure the students are comfortable when they arrive on campus. In addition, I run the Career Strategies Workshop. It’s the last course each student takes, so I’m involved every step of the way during their journey, from start to finish.

CA: The Career Strategies Workshop is a vital part of MSD, as every student’s entire goal is to get a great job when they graduate. What do you cover during this time?

Kay: During this 2-week workshop they learn how to find the position they want to apply for, write a professional resume, ask and answer questions during interviews, and write a follow-up thank-you note. These soft skills give them confidence in promoting themselves and handling interviews, so when they complete the workshop, they literally can’t wait to jump into the job search.

CA:  How do the students know where to apply? It’s a big world out there!

Kay: There might be 1,000’s of positions to choose from, but we help them decide where to apply. For example, do they want a corporate culture where they wear suits and ties and work with top-tier global consulting firms? Or do they prefer an informal setting where they can wear t-shirts and jeans? What are the technologies they will be working on? Where is the job located?  Do they want to live there? Is the company only offering a salary, or are benefits included? These are the things to consider before starting their job search.

CA: Do you teach them how to promote themselves on social media as well?

Kay: Definitely! They learn how to promote themselves online on sites such as LinkedIn, Dice, Indeed, and Career Builder. In addition, the MSD website has a landing page where recruiters can review their resumes, and we try to make sure the students only work with professional recruiters. We also encourage them to network with friends and associates who work in companies where they want to apply.

CA: How long does it take for MSD graduates to land a job?

Kay: In a good market the job search can take 3 to 6 months and at times, up to a year. However, our graduates are getting jobs quickly because they are well-prepared. They know what type of company they want to work in and have developed quality interviewing skills. Another advantage that our students have is that we partner with companies who seek the technical skills that our students have.

CA:  What is your success rate?

Kay: Our graduates are doing great! 100% of our 2020 and 2021 graduates have accepted positions at top US companies including Google, Citibank, USAA, Hays Companies, Boeing, and others, with an average annual pay of $95,000 (ranging from $75,000 to $135,000), while many of our 2022 graduates have already accepted great positions as well.

CA: What makes you confident that MSD graduates have the technical skills needed for the job market?

Kay: MSD is different from a typical computer science program where they learn many technologies but the courses are shallower. Our classes are specific. The MSD students learn JavaScript web development. It’s the front end and back end for web and IOS, so it’s more hands-on than other programs. Plus, with MIU’s block system, they take one course at a time so it’s easier to focus and retain the knowledge.

CA: I understand the courses are project-based. Can you describe how that works?

Kay: The students work on 9 to11 projects during the year, and each one is similar to projects they would have in an actual workplace. Approaching the problem as a real-life project develops and establishes their skills and helps make them proficient JavaScript web developers.

CA: What are companies looking for in new hires, and software developers in particular?

Kay: First of all, the applicant needs to have strong technical skills, but soft skills are also in high demand. Many times, companies choose someone who is confident and comfortable in their own skin. The employer knows they will be sitting with this person for two-thousand hours a year and they want to hire someone who is easy to be around, driven to succeed, and wants to continue to learn all that they can because learning new technologies never ends in the field of software development.

CA:  Is this why perfecting the interview process is important?

Kay: Very much so. During the interview process, our graduates have an opportunity to demonstrate their technical skills, but they can also demonstrate that they are team players who show up on time, are excited about the company and its projects, are dedicated and professional, and will bring those high standards to the workplace.

CA: What inspires you about working with MSD students?

Kay: I enjoy meeting people from all areas of the USA, and different countries and cultures, who have various perspectives on life. It is a joy to watch these students start a master’s program with little, if any, experience in developing software, and achieve a master’s degree and a life-changing new career.

They embark on this new path, leaving their jobs and families for 12 to 18 months to attend the Masters in Software Development program.   In the end, when they complete the program and find a great job, they are so happy they made that decision! They inspire me because they leave everything they know to come to this little town of Fairfield seeking higher education at MIU and take a chance on a new career path because they want a more fulfilling life, and they do it! It really is an honor to be a part of their journey.

Kay and Students at Picnic

*This article has been updated as of June 16th, 2022 to reflect current statistics.



MSD Professor Dr. Renuka

Dr. Renuka Mohanraj Feeling at Home on Master’s of Software Development Faculty

“I would tell students that MIU is a very happy place to live and study, and this program prepares them to get good jobs and create a better life.” ~ Dr. Renuka

By Christine Albers

Dr. Renuka Mohanraj emigrated from Southern India to join Maharishi International University (MIU) faculty in 2014. In March 2021 she won an industry award for research on wireless security and was honored as a Fellow of the Computer Science Research Council (FCSRC) for her important research on wireless sensor networks (WSN) data security. Let’s meet this brilliant and accomplished professor, who we are so fortunate to have on faculty for the Master’s of Software Development program (MSD), and the MS in Computer Science (ComPro). Learn why her students sing her praises with comments like this:

“Data structure was a crucial course and you made it enjoyable and easy. I love the way you teach and how organized and efficient you are. I appreciate the extra effort you put in to make sure all of us understand the concepts very well. You are the best professor I have had in this program. Best wishes and thank you and I deeply appreciate your hard work.”

CA: Congratulations on your award, Dr. Renuka. Can you tell us about your background?

Dr.  Renuka: I have my Ph.D. in Computer Science and a Master’s in Computer Applications.  I had 19 years of academic experience and worked for 12 years in other universities prior to joining the MIU faculty.

CA: What inspired you to join MIU?

Dr.  Renuka: In 2014, my husband was working in Tanzania and I had just completed my Ph.D. in India. We were looking for a place where our whole family could be together so he searched on Google for a university where we could work and live. When we found MIU we were attracted by the concept of Consciousness-based education. We liked the idea that the development of consciousness through meditation was a big part of the university. We thought that because everyone, the students, staff, and faculty all practice the TM technique, it would be a calm, quiet, and safe place for us to live as a family.

CA: What was it like for you, coming from India to a small-town environment in Iowa?  

MSD Professor Dr. Renuka and familyDr.  Renuka: For me, it wasn’t a complete cultural shift because the university follows Maharishi’s tradition. After meeting my colleagues and students, it felt like my home town very quickly, because many people are meditating and on a spiritual path in addition to a career path.

CA: What do you like best about living in the MIU community?

Dr.  Renuka: In this community, everyone is respectful and loving, and helpful to each other.  That is what’s so great about living here.  I remember arriving on campus as newcomers and everyone smiled at us and welcomed us. It made us feel safe to stay here because the people are so wonderful.

CA: Are you feeling any benefits from your TM practice?

Dr.  Renuka: It’s so wonderful. I have seen myself grow in self-confidence, clarity of mind, calmness, and much more energy.

CA: Do you think the MSD students are different from students you taught at previous universities?

Dr.  Renuka: The MSD students are different from other students because they want to learn as much as they can from the faculty. They have keen observation, and focus, and the determination to gain this knowledge. The MSD course is challenging and requires hard work, but TM gives them greater mental clarity and the energy to accomplish more. MIU is unique because the faculty has to keep up with the demand of the students to learn. This is very stimulating and enjoyable as a teacher.

CA: What do you think of the Block system?

Dr.  Renuka: The Block system is effective for helping students learn and retain knowledge because it’s much easier to go deeply into each subject when they take one course at a time. Students have class in the morning and a practicum in the afternoon.  During the practicum, they apply what they learned in the morning session so they get a complete understanding. The practicum provides an opportunity to solve the type of problems they would encounter in the workplace, which prepares them for their future careers in software development.

CA: I understand that computer science has been mostly male-dominated in the past. Do you think that women faculty and students are outnumbered by men at MIU?

Dr.  Renuka: When I came to MIU in 2014 I was the only woman in the Computer Science Department. MIU recruited me because they wanted more women to join the faculty. Now it is getting better. Many more female students enrolled in the MSD program in August, and there are more women in the department.

CA: Why do you feel it is important for the students to learn TM?

Dr.  Renuka: TM helps students have a balanced personality and reduces stress and anxiety. Because they have inner calm, they are more stable and better able to focus on their classes and learn the technologies. Because TM develops the students from the inside, it helps them be good citizens and creates better quality human beings.

CA: What would you like to say to students who are interested in joining the MSD program?

Dr.  Renuka: I would tell students that it’s a very happy place to live and study, and this program prepares them to get good jobs and create a better life. With their TM practice, they can easily face the challenges of the current market in the IT industry. The technologies may change, but with a clear mind and rested physiology, they can learn new technologies and be successful in the workplace.


Why the Master’s in Software Development is Better than Boot Camp

An interview with Dr. Keith Levi, Dean of the College of Computer Science, MIU

 By Christine Albers

“We observed the success that top boot camps had with relatively short, intense programs to train web programmers. Web development was an area of strength in our highly successful Master’s of Science in Computer Science (ComPro) program. So, we decided to create a tightly focused Master’s degree program that would leverage our web development expertise for strong students with limited prior software expertise.”  Dr. Keith Levi

 Meet Dr. Keith Levi, who was instrumental in creating both the Master’s in Computer Science (ComPro) program and the Master’s in Software Development (MSD) program at MIU. Learn how MSD evolved as a better program than boot camps for aspiring software developers who lacked experience in computer science. If you’re thinking of getting into web development, this interview is a must-read!

CA: How did you first learn about MIU? And what is your educational background?

Dr. Levi: The first time I visited MIU I was a new meditator, attending my first residence course, in the spring of 1975. I liked the environment so I came back that same year in November to attend MIU, and graduated in 1979. I went on to graduate school at the University of Michigan, where I studied computer science, statistics, and mathematical psychology. I have degrees in all of those. My Ph.D. is in Mathematical Psychology and my MA and MS are in Statistics and Computer Science.

CA: What inspired you to join the MIU faculty?

Dr. Levi: I was a visiting professor several times and joined the Computer Science Department full-time in 1990. I was inspired by my experience as a student at MIU, and although I had great respect for all my professors in graduate school at Michigan, I had a special admiration for my MIU professors and looked to them as to where I would like to go in my career and who I wanted to become as a person.

CA: You were instrumental in starting the Computer Professionals (ComPro program). What is the history of ComPro?

Keith Levi, Ph.D MSD FacultyDr. Levi: In 1990 I was teaching Computer Science. We had small classes with 20 or so undergrads and a few graduate classes with about 15 students. By 1994 or 1995, the numbers were so low, we wondered how to recruit more students. I knew from my graduate school experience that every Ph.D. program has teaching or research assistantships, which provided employment to pay for graduate school in addition to experiential learning.

At that time, there were a number of tech companies in Fairfield that were doing well, such as Telegroup, USA Global Link, and others. With all these companies needing tech people, we had the idea to bring in students and give them assistantships. ComPro basically started out with students taking classes part-time and working part-time at local tech companies. We actually drove our students to work in vans and picked them up at the end of the day.

CA: That’s quite a history. How did ComPro grow into what it is now?

Dr. Levi: We got to the point where we had more students than available jobs in Fairfield. We wanted to see if we could replicate it, but the part-time model wouldn’t work outside of Fairfield.

CA: How did you resolve all this?

Dr. Levi: In 1999, we developed a new model for ComPro, where the students studied full-time on campus for one year. After a year of study, we helped them find jobs in the field, where they finished their last few courses remotely and part-time. That was a big step. We were fortunate in those early days to get some outside companies such as IBM in Minnesota and Microsoft in Seattle to hire our students.

CA: How did the new model work out?

Dr. Levi: It expanded quickly until the dot.com crash between 1998 and 2000 when we hit a hurdle. The crash was a big challenge for tech companies and that affected our program.

CA: I remember working in technical recruiting and there was no business at all. How did you pull through the dot.com crash?

Dr. Levi: We got through it with a lot of work, worries, and collaboration with our students. Quite a few students came back to campus and we gave them positions in our IT department to keep them in a holding pattern until the economy recovered. We were worried because we had so many students in the field who were linked to the university.  It took a lot of flexibility and hard work to keep the program going, but all of our students finished their education and graduated.

CA: How does ComPro stand today?

Dr. Levi: ComPro is one of the largest Masters in Computer Science programs in the country. We’re the second largest after the University of Southern California, producing Masters of Science in Computer Science degrees, and our graduates are in many Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Bank of America, Honeywell, Citibank, Amazon, IBM, and more.

CA: Congratulations on the success of ComPro. Let’s turn our attention to the Master’s in Software Development (MSD). I understand that MSD evolved out of ComPro. How did that happen exactly?

Dr. Levi: For a number of years, we were discussing how to manage the risks associated with ComPro, due to the ups and downswings in the economy, and international students who were dependent on visas. We had huge numbers coming from China, Ethiopia, Nepal, and Viet Nam, but when the Trump administration opposed immigration and tried to cut off many countries, our enrollment was affected negatively.

CA: How does that relate to MSD?

Dr. Levi: By January 2017, we had a very strong program in web programming for ComPro, and we could see that web software had become the core of the software development field.

Meanwhile, boot camps were springing up. A top program advertised to people who were relatively new programmers and promised to get them jobs earning $100,000 a year. They guaranteed these jobs or the boot camp grads wouldn’t have to pay their tuition. However, if you read the fine print, the job had to be in San Francisco or New York City, because salaries are highest in those cities. That program only took one out of 20 applicants, plus they had a 3-month prep course, and their students were expected to spend 100 hours a week in class and study.

CA: How did that influence the creation of the MSD program?

Dr. Levi: What interested us about boot camps was that they were teaching full-stack JavaScript. We had a strong curriculum in full-stack, so we knew we could create something like boot camps, but better. We developed a 12-month program that did not require 100 hours of work per week, and we marketed it to Americans, Permanent Residents, and Asylees, which eliminated visa problems. MSD was a different market than ComPro but utilized our existing courses and faculty.

CA: Can you say more about why the Master’s of Software Development is better than boot camps?

Dr. Levi: Some of the boot camps are great, but the people who do well are already experienced programmers though they may not know JavaScript.  They are mainly attending to learn that language. People without any computer background will find it difficult to be successful with only a few months of training. Many boot camps have been extending the length of their programs because it has been their experience that most people require more time.

CA: Does MSD require prior experience in Computer Science? What are the requirements to apply for this program?

Dr. Levi: Students can apply, even if they have no background in computer science, as long as they can demonstrate an ability to learn software development. We require a Bachelor’s degree in any field with a 3.0 GPA or above.

CA: How do the applicants demonstrate their ability to learn software development?

Dr. Levi: Computer Science has a particular way of thinking, learning, and problem-solving, and we test our students to see if they are able to succeed in this field. We launched our twelve-month program in September 2019. We also added an additional preparatory semester in fall 2020 for individuals that might need more time to refresh their mathematical and logical skills. Now we have a 12-month Accelerated program and an 18-month Standard program.

CA: How does our faculty compare to boot camp faculty?

Dr. Levi: Our faculty is generally stronger than the faculty at boot camps. They may have some top people, but most of their instructors are not university professors and do not have experience as educators.

CA: Do you have any examples of boot camp grads versus MSD grads?

Dr. Levi: One of our university trustees has a company in San Francisco. They have hired people out of boot camps and he said that boot camp graduates are pretty good, but their knowledge is fairly thin. The fact that they only get a fast 3 months of training shows that they don’t have strong knowledge of computer science and that’s something that we give our students.

CA: Many students would agree with you. Here’s what a current MSD student, Sirak Tekle, has to say:

“I wouldn’t recommend boot camps. It’s better to come here and join the extended track (18 months). People might save some money at boot camps, but it’s not about the money. It’s about their long-term goals. Students don’t learn enough at the boot camps because it’s impossible to learn that fast. If they know nothing to begin with, they won’t gain a deep core understanding of the programming language, as we do here at MIU. Here they teach us to think like an engineer, to solve problems on our own, and to understand the core of the study.”

CA: Has MSD been successful?

Dr. Levi: Yes, the program is doing very well. Our first class in August 2019 had 41 students, and in August 2020 we had 54.

Then, in February 2021 we started offering two entries per year. We admitted 53 in February, and 41 new students are arriving in August 2021 (a total of 94 students in 2021). Plus, we are having great success in placing 100% of the MSD graduates in top companies including Google, Citibank, USAA, Hays Companies, and others, with an average starting yearly pay of $91K, with a range of $70K – $130K.

CA: All of the MSD students learn Transcendental Meditation, but readers might like to know more about why we encourage them to learn the TM technique. From your perspective, how is this beneficial for MSD students?

Dr. Levi: MSD is a challenging program, and the students tell us that they couldn’t study for so many hours if they didn’t have 20 minutes of meditation twice a day. They say they are able to focus much longer and report that they have less anxiety and don’t get as stressed about doing well.

CA: Mo Hassan, another MSD student, said this about his meditation: 

“Honestly, I have no idea how, but the meditation works. If I’m tired or nervous or even panicking before exams, it helps. Meditating for 15 or 20 minutes settles me down and helps me focus. I think it will help when I graduate, move to a new city to start a new job, and have to learn everything about a new company and environment.”

CA: Do you think TM will help them in their new careers?

Dr. Levi: It takes a lot of time, energy, and dedication for people to be successful in the field of software development. Especially when they get into a company, it can be demanding, with many deadlines.  The software they write has to work. They can’t just do something that looks good, it can’t be sort of good — it has to work.  Technologies can be very challenging and there’s a lot of pressure to get it done on time and done right.

Software developers need to have quiet attention, the ability to focus, and remain calm so they won’t get upset when the going gets tough. We know from hundreds of research studies that the TM technique creates a state of inner calm and quiet attention, so it’s a huge help. And they need to be able to see the big picture.

CA: Can you say more about the “big picture?”

Dr. Levi: While software developers need to focus, they can’t get so attached to one point that they get lost in it. They need to step back and look at the big picture. Our students often report that they have the experience of working on a problem, then taking a break and meditating, and during that time they have some intuition or insight into a solution. It’s what we call an “aha experience,” which simply comes from taking the time to sit back and meditate.

CA: Can you tell us about the uniqueness of JavaScript and why it is the primary language taught in the Master’s of Software Development program?

Dr. Levi: JavaScript is the language of the web. All web browsers, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox, etc. run JavaScript. When you use a browser, JavaScript is running in the browser to execute the front-end code for whatever website you are on. Every computer on earth that is connected to the World Wide Web is using JavaScript right now and it is evolving quickly. Our faculty is focused on keeping up with all the updates and teaching the latest frameworks and technologies. That is why our students are confident that they will find good jobs in the field.

CA: The students always tell me that they love the block system. Do you know if this is unique to MIU and why do you feel it is a great way to learn?

Dr. Levi: Our students do like the block system. For MSD, it’s critical to the program, and it’s one of the biggest advantages that we have over other universities doing a program like this. The big advantage of the block system is that the knowledge unfolds sequentially. We offer one subject at a time and each course builds on the next one. The students appreciate that they can really focus on each subject.

We can go very deep like that. In a semester system at other universities, students take 5 courses at a time and they don’t have the sequential building of knowledge that we can offer.

CA: Do you feel that your students are ready to get great jobs when they graduate?

Dr. Levi: They spent long enough, one year or 1½ years, and that’s sufficient time in an intense program like ours. Plus, they’ve learned the latest technology and frameworks which are in super high demand in the marketplace. The fact that they are US citizens or green card holders is also desirable in the market.

And they have the TM technique, the secret ingredient that is unique to MIU. It’s the greatest thing that comes out of this program, a hidden gem, and something that will be a huge boon in their career and throughout their lives, because it will keep them healthy and calm, with bright, clear minds.

Keith Levi and family MSD Faculty



6 Reasons Why MIU’s Master’s in Software Development Is a Life-Changing Experience

Career Training and Personal Development go Hand in Hand

By Christine Albers

When Mohamed “Moe” Hassan emigrated to the United States from Sudan in 2016, with a degree in architecture and his green card, he naturally began searching for a position in his field. But the only work he could find was in customer service for the airline industry, where he pieced together several part-time jobs just to pay the rent.

Mohamed Hassan, M.S.D., Coralville, Iowa

A Sudanese friend suggested that Hassan apply for the Master’s in Software Development (M.S.D.) program at Maharishi International University (MIU). His first reaction was, “Me, study IT? I’ve worked with software programs in architectural design, but I don’t have experience in software development.”

But his friend, who was a graduate of MIU’s Computer Science program, insisted: “Stop everything, take this chance, and go. This is your time to start a new life. And don’t laugh at the meditation—you’re going to need it.”

MIU’s unique Master’s in Software Development program does not require a computer science background and accepts US equivalent bachelor’s degrees in any subject. It trains students to become Full Stack JavaScript web developers while they further their personal growth with the Transcendental Meditation technique.

With 12 to 18 months of on-campus or online coursework, M.S.D. graduates are equipped with the skills most in demand for the software development job market.

Interested in exploring a new career in software development? MIU is accepting applications for the next entry.

Here are the top five reasons why MIU’s M.S.D. graduates feel the program gives them the tools for success.

1. Prepares Students for Top Positions in Just a Year

Hassan enrolled in MIU’s Master’s in Software Development in August 2019 and never looked back. “I knew if I didn’t do something, I would be stuck in that life of working 14 to 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, and trying to support a family,” he said.

Haile Tesfu M.S.D., Seattle, Washington

One year later, he completed MIU’s comprehensive graduate program for professional and personal development and landed a position as a JavaScript software developer at Leepfrog Technologies in Coralville, Iowa.

Haile Tesfu, M.S.D., worked as a civil engineer in Eritrea before he came to the United States and joined MIU’s software development program. Now he is working as a code analyst for Infosys in Seattle, Washington. “We are using Angular Development at Infosys, and it was easier for me because I had already learned everything about it at MIU,” he said.

Tesfu and Hassan are just two of the program’s first-year graduates who have accepted jobs at leading companies—including Google, Citibank, USAA, Hays Companies, Boeing, and others—with an average starting pay of $95,000 (ranging from $75,000 to $130,000). Within a few months of completing the program, 60 percent of the students have accepted offers—and they are thrilled they are finding jobs so quickly.

First-year graduates have accepted jobs at leading companies—including Google, Citibank, USAA, Hays Companies, Boeing, and others—with an average starting pay of $95,000 (ranging from $75,000 to $130,000).


2. The Latest in Software Training from Industry-Experienced Faculty

Ashim Ghimire, M.S.D., Seattle, Washington

Ashim Ghimire, M.S.D., Seattle, Washington

“It’s the faculty who make it work,” said Ashim Ghimire, M.S.D., who is originally from Nepal and earned his undergraduate economics degree at South Dakota University. “We are all from different backgrounds—and no one has been in Computer Science before—but in a span of 10 months, we are confident we can do the job, and that shows a lot.”

As a result, “I discovered that I love JavaScript,” Ghimire said. “You don’t learn it and know it and that’s it; you have to continue using it and learning new things.” He’ll be doing so in Seattle, where he returned to be with his family after completing the master’s program.

Students appreciate the industry expertise and international experience of the M.S.D. faculty as well as their dynamic delivery of the course material, which makes the courses exciting and enjoyable. The professors in software development have experience at many top companies, such as Google, e-Trade, Honeywell, AT&T, and Wells Fargo, as well as with governments around the world. They are familiar with the latest technologies needed to succeed in the IT industry.


3. Faster Learning and Reduced Stress with MIU’s Innovative Block System

So students can immerse themselves in a single topic at a time, MIU uses a modular block system of one class per month. Students can focus and learn quickly without the distraction of juggling four or five other courses simultaneously. They learn more with less stress.

“When I was in college studying civil engineering in Eritrea, I had to take 5 or 6 courses at a time,” said Tesfu. “It was stressful to try and remember everything, and tiring for my mind to constantly switch from one subject to another. But with the modular system, taking one course at a time, I didn’t have that stress. My mind stayed fresher, and it was easier to retain the knowledge. It’s the best way of learning.”

Michael Woldemedihin, M.S.D., Seattle, Washington

Michael Woldemedihin, M.S.D.

Michael Woldemedihin, who came to the M.S.D. program from Seattle, Washington, with a background in pharmaceuticals and information technology, also credits the modular system with helping him keep up with the pace.

“The Master’s in Software Development is a rigorous course, and we had to work hard. There was no time to slack off,” Woldemedihin said. “Taking one course at a time made it easier to stay focused. The daily assignments helped us integrate the knowledge in the evenings and stay on top of things.”

The block system helps students acquire the latest skills needed to succeed. “It’s a challenging program, but we have all the up-to-date knowledge,” he added. “I really think anyone who graduates with this degree can survive anything in the industry.” Woldemedihin is doing just that. He landed a position with Boeing in Seattle and is working for them from Fairfield during the pandemic.

“Taking one course at a time made it easier to stay focused… It’s a challenging program, but we have all the up-to-date knowledge.” —Michael Woldemedihin, M.S.D.


4. More Personal Growth and Deep Rest with the TM Technique

The foundational element of MIU’s Consciousness-Based education is the TM technique. Regular TM practice refreshes the mind and body, reduces stress, and increases intelligence and memory, making it far easier for students to absorb the knowledge from their courses and retain it. It’s also a tool they can take with them in their new career.

“Before MIU all I knew of meditation was from movies and TV shows,” said Hassan. “I learned Transcendental Meditation and didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, I have no idea how, but the meditation works. If I was tired or nervous or even panicking before exams, meditating for 20 minutes settled me down and helped me focus. I think TM will also help now that I’m moving to a new city to start a job and have to learn everything about the company and the environment.”

Michael Fitzgerald, Fairfield, Iowa

Michael Fitzgerald, Fairfield, Iowa

Michael Fitzgerald, from Crystal River, Florida, earned his B.A. in Mathematics at MIU before entering the M.S.D. program, so he was experienced with Consciousness-Based education. Still completing his M.S.D. coursework, he has already landed a position as IT Administrator for Maharishi School in Fairfield.

“MIU is the only university I know of that encourages its students to stay rested and have a healthy lifestyle,” Fitzgerald said. “For me, that’s as important as the knowledge. Many of my M.S.D. classmates didn’t think much of meditation before coming here, but they were impressed with the results from TM. They noticed they didn’t have as much stress and had greater clarity and focus in school after learning the TM technique, and it came as a surprise to them.”

Tesfu appreciates how it’s helping him in his new position at Infosys. “I love the meditation! It really works for me. It gives me energy and clears my mind, and it’s helping me with my new job. If I’m working and feel tired, I stop for my TM session and feel refreshed and ready to start again,” he said.

“I love the meditation! It really works for me. It gives me energy and clears my mind, and it’s helping me with my new job.”  — Haile Tesfu, M.S.D.


5. Career Strategy Workshops Help Students in Their Job Search

Once students finish their M.S.D. course work, they are ready to apply for industry positions. That’s where the program’s vital job coaching comes into play, with a two-week workshop plus continued coaching for one year or until they land a job.

Amelework (Amele) Cheklie, M.S.D., Seattle, Washington

Amelework (Amele) Cheklie, M.S.D.


Amele Cheklie was a well-known journalist for the Ethiopian News Agency before she immigrated to the United States and joined the M.S.D. program.

“The Career Strategy class was well-designed, and we learned so many techniques to help us find a job,” said Cheklie, who landed in Seattle and is interviewing there for many software developer positions.

“We improved our ability to promote ourselves by communicating professionally. Practicing with my team helped build my confidence in speaking about myself,” Amele said.

“We improved our ability to promote ourselves by communicating professionally. Practicing with my team helped build my confidence in speaking about myself,” —Amele Cheklie


Abel Nedi, M.S.D., Atlanta, Georgia

Abel Nedi, M.S.D.


“The job coaching program was very helpful,” says Abel Nedi of Atlanta, Georgia, who joined the M.S.D. program with a B.S. in Computer Science.

“I learned how to prepare a professional resume and how to communicate with recruiters and hiring companies. It was great to get my team’s feedback and see where I needed to improve. I definitely think this program helped me get my job,” said Nedi, who is working as a Java developer at Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s working remotely from Atlanta, Georgia until he can move to Charlotte when the pandemic ends.

“I definitely think this program (career coaching workshop) helped me get my job.” – Abel Nedi


6. Training for a Global Market with an International Community

The M.S.D. students in the first class of 2019 came from countries all over the world, representing multiple cultures, religions, educational backgrounds, and age groups. They were curious about learning the TM technique as an educational tool for personal development and committed to the challenge of mastering a new field of knowledge together. In the process, they were preparing for interacting with a global market.

“It’s beautiful to see many different cultures overlapping and co-existing,” said Fitzgerald. “Even students from countries with a conflict between them interact joyously and peacefully here. I’ve made lifelong friends from around the world and had unique and unforgettable experiences—like listening to a traditional Ethiopian singer while working on projects with Ethiopian students.”

For Fitzgerald, being on this journey with an international community was part of the M.S.D. program’s success. “We may have been from different countries, but we were all on the same trajectory, taking our classes together. There was a cool group feeling that we were in this together. The whole program and curriculum were laid out, so it was like riding a train—with the sense that the train would take us to totally new heights.”

“The whole program and curriculum were laid out, so it was like riding a train—with the sense that the train would take us to totally new heights.”
—Michael Fitzgerald, M.S.D.

Learn More about the Life-Changing M.S.D. Program

With their year of coursework completed, all the students agree that it has been a life-changing experience. They are proud of the time and effort devoted to their Master’s in Software Development and excited to start new lives and new careers.

And as Fitzgerald pointed out, “If the idea of self-development appeals to someone, they will gain so much more than they ever expected from this program.”

Note: If you’d like to embark on a career in software development, MIU is now accepting applications for our next entry.

Questions?  Contact an Admissions Consultant any time by calling or texting (800) 563-9673 or emailing:  msd@miu.edu

This article was reprinted from Enjoy TM News, © 2020 Maharishi Foundation USA, Inc.


Professor Asaad Saad featured on “Adventures with Angular” podcast

Angular vs React: What Grad Students Pick 100% of the Time

Professor Asaad Saad, Program Director for the Master’s in Software Development program and Professor of Computer Science, discusses why learning Angular creates a better software engineer, and why we teach it at MIU. Listen to podcast here: