Graduating School of Engineering Doctoral Student Sees Academic Challenges as Life Lessons
When Abdul Razaque ’15 received merit scholarships in 2011 to pursue his doctorate in computer science from three universities – Purdue, UConn, and UB – his choice was clear. He followed his research interests to UB, then delved into his studies with an indisputable passion. As the author of over 80 research contributions in refereed conferences, international journals, and books, Razaque presented his work in more than 35 countries. One quick glance at his Top 10 accomplishments during his UB studies says it all:
- Nominated by Common Wealth for the Distinguished Research Award, 2015
- Recognized by the Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Science Foundation as the most active overseas scholar in 2014
- Special award in 2014 from the Islamic Development Bank due to his scholarly work and socio-economic activities
- One of five recipients awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to present his research work in Plamero, Italy in October, 2013
- Certificate of Excellence from the Student Programming Board, University of Bridgeport, Spring 2012
- Shell Petroleum Inspirational Award and Cultural Exchange Fellowship Award, 2011
- Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal for Engineering and Technology (IJET), Singapore, from October 2012 – March, 2015, as well as Editor, Associate Editor, and Editorial Board Member for several International Journals
- Member of technical program committees at 62 international conferences including IEEE, Elsevier, Springer, IET, and ACM
- Chair of the Strategic and Planning Committee at IEEE (SAC) Region-1, USA, 2014 and Relational Officer, IEEE for (Europe, Africa and Middle East) SAC Region-8, 2014
- Chair or co-chair, including keynote speaker, of more than a dozen highly reputable international conferences
Razaque’s research interests include wireless sensor networks, cloud computing, network security, design and development of mobile learning environments, multimedia applications, bio-informatics, and ambient intelligence – all of which he steadfastly pursued at the University of Bridgeport’s School of Engineering. UBecome sat down with Razaque shortly after he obtained his Doctorate in Computer Science and Engineering to learn just what made him tick so intently at UB.
A challenge. And yes!
I always love the difficult things in life because I take them on as a challenge. Challenges help you mark the milestones of your life. They give you something to reach for, learn from, overcome, achieve, and mark your personal and professional growth.
When someone criticizes your work, next time you become better. I have tried my best to send my work to highly reputable journals, and of course sometimes I have gotten rejections. But rejections open a new door for us, because they teach us to handle our mistakes and not repeat them.
I have especially learned this from Dr. Tarek Sobh, our Dean at the School of Engineering. Dr. Sobh taught me how to resolve the very hardest tasks in my life, and how to become a leader in the process.
When I look back at myself four years ago, I see someone who no one knew. I did not have any kind of identity. Now I feel proud of my accomplishments and that I have been recognized at the international level.
Professor Elleithy, my academic advisor, has definitely been my inspiration. I was able to discuss anything with him. He would listen to my ideas and encourage me to go ahead, I had his moral and ethical support. I never turned back. I kept on working hard. He provided all of us students with this wonderful environment where you are allowed the opportunity to grow. In addition, Professor Junling Hu and Professor Gupta were also inspiring figures who highly motivated me in my accomplishments.
I came to UB by following my curiosity in research and scholarship, particularly in wireless and mobile communications (WMC), and then I was given an environment to work freely, research papers, submit to scholarly journals, and present at conferences all over the world. I found that in all of UB’s engineering programs, students are highly cooperative. If we hit a problem in our studies, we sat together to figure out the solutions, resolving the problem together. Between the freedom to pursue my intellectual curiosities in my strongest areas of research, and the interdisciplinary and collaborative learning environment provided here at UB, I felt this is where I belonged all along.
What’s next is finally fulfilling my childhood dream. When I was a child in elementary school in Pakistan, one of my class teachers, Ali Bux Memon, was a role model to me. I decided then I wanted to pursue teaching as my profession. When I finished high school, I started tutoring then figured out it wasn’t enough. I then pursued a bachelor’s of mathematics, but still felt it wasn’t enough. I went for my second bachelor’s, this time in computer science, followed by a master’s in computer science from the Mohammad Ali Jinnah University. But even with that degree in hand, I still didn’t feel ready to teach. I knew I needed to have practical skills in the field, so I became a professional Network Engineer.
In 2002, I started teaching for the first time as a professor and head of computer science at the Model Colleges Wing Setup. It took a few years before I realized that in order to compete in academia, I needed to have a research background. So I went back for my second master’s degree in multimedia and communication, this time with a degree completely focused on research.
My desire to become a professor with a scholarly foundation led me to America. Now I feel my dream has finally come true. UB gave me the self-confidence I needed to collaborate with professors of highly reputable universities on a variety of projects. As a result, I have been collaborating with Professor Syed Rizvi of The Pennsylvania State University – Altoona and Professor Maode Ma of Nanyang Technological University on several projects pertaining to cloud computing privacy and security issues.
With my doctorate from UB and my resume filled with professional milestones, I could now apply confidently to any university all over the world, particularly the U.S. As a Professor of Computer Science at my next big “Challenge,” I will finally realize my life’s calling: to teach!