Muhammad Ahmad Khan, Class of 2021, makes an impact with computer science
As we approach the Class of 2021’s graduation, we are talking with a few members of the class about how they have grown and what they have learned during their time at CMU-Q. Today we speak to Muhammad Ahmad Khan, who is completing his degree in computer science.
CMU-Q News: To begin, tell us why you chose computer science.
Ahmad Khan: To be entirely honest with you, coming into CMU-Q, I wasn’t really sure about going into computer science. Around my second year, I started learning about how computers are built and what computer science can really do for us. I started doing research at this point, and that’s when I became convinced that computer science is something that can have an impact on the world, and that this is the field I wanted to pursue.
CMU-Q News: What part of computer science are you most interested in?
Ahmad Khan: My interests have changed throughout the four years. At one point I was really excited about learning about computer systems. More recently I’m interested in human computer interactions, specifically designing software which is accessible to humans. I took a course from Pittsburgh this semester so I can explore that field further.
CMU-Q News: You talked a little bit about research. Can you tell us more about that experience?
Ahmad Khan: Coming into CMU-Q, I didn’t even know research was an opportunity that I would have. I was really blessed in my sophomore year to be offered a research position with Professor Ihab Younis, who teaches biology and does research into breast cancer. I helped Professor Ihab and the biology research students process the data they are generating.
We were trying to see how we can treat breast cancer. That was really exciting, and it was the first time I was using the skills that I was learning in class to do work that felt impactful.
CMU-Q News: Was there a club or extracurricular activity that has been particularly meaningful?
Ahmad Khan: I was very involved with the Computing Club, which aims to bring together CS students and faculty to create a community. During my first year, the club activities and events were a really incredible experience. Within class you learn all these CS topics, but the professors have so many more life experiences that they can share with us. I realized that I wanted future first-year students to experience that too, so I helped to lead the club in my junior year.
CMU-Q News: What are your goals for your career?
Ahmad Khan: Computer science has given me a skillset that allows me to make an impact in different fields, and I want to use those skills to have some sort of positive impact. One specific thing that I am passionate about is social media. Recently, it’s become more apparent how social media can have a negative impact, such as increased polarization, misinformation, and hate. There’s already work being done to rework the model for social media to be more friendly. And that’s work that I want to be a part of down the line.
CMU-Q News: The pandemic has changed your senior experience, but are there any positive things that have come out of this?
Ahmad Khan: I mean, the pandemic has definitely impacted my experience. I was organizing a service trip that we couldn’t go on, and I was supposed to go to Pittsburgh for an exchange semester. So it’s definitely been a difficult year, not just for me, but for everyone.
But I think there are some positives that have come out of it. I was blessed with the opportunity to help organize orientation for the new students last summer. It was our first online orientation, and it was really just beautiful. The organizers put all their heart into this work to try to make orientation as engaging as possible for the incoming students. And out of that experience, I definitely made a few new friends and met so many new students.
CMU-Q News: Thank you, Ahmad, for sharing your experience with us.
Ahmad Khan: Thank you.