Computer science graduate now award-winning professor

Nearly two decades ago, upon a nomination from the Egyptian government’s ministry of defense, Hesham N. Elmahdy came to the University of Mississippi as a doctoral student majoring in computer and information science.

“I contacted both the computer science department and the international students’ office at Ole Miss, and satisfied all the requirements,” he said. ”My family and I traveled to the great university on Aug. 12, 1994.”

Since his graduation in 1997, Elmahdy has become professor of information technology/information systems and computer science consultant at Cairo University. Among his many awards is first prize for the best creative ideas for the development of the University of Cairo in 2008. He also was named Professor of the Year in 2011 and 2012.

“The thing I am most proud of is being the e-learning coordinator,” Elmahdy said. “In July, the faculty of medicine at Cairo University selected me and my team to promote their courses to be managed using MOODLE. Nowadays, I teach 70 faculty members how to use e-learning to develop and manage their courses. Also, my Web page within the university website has had the highest number of visitors in the last seven months.”

Elmahdy has initiated many national campaigns in Egypt using the media.

“The last one was called ‘Greenhouses of Worship’ in which mosques and churches reduced their use of electric power, minimized water usage and maximized the clean-up and planting of trees in the communities around them,” he said. “I have directed the clean-up campaign of the community of Egypt since 2006.”

Elmahdy recalls how he arrived at Ole Miss.

“Atef Elsherbeni, professor of electrical engineering and associate dean of research and graduate programs in the UM School of Engineering, picked up my family and I at the airport,” he said. “He gave us all so much moral support that we began to feel as [if] we were in our own country.”

Elmahdy said he remembers facing many challenges, including cultural differences, unfamiliar communications with other nationalities, language barriers, difficulties during study, trying to maintain excellence within his classes and even climate changes.

“On top of participating in student activities, I worked at being a father of three kids and a husband loyal to his family and his country,” Elmahdy said. “Although it was not my first time to live in United States, it was my first time living as a Ph.D. student at Ole Miss.”

Through it all, Elmahdy accomplished his goal of receiving his degree.

“A lot of people were involved in my success,” he said. “My wife, Chancellor Robert Khayat, Drs. Charles A. Smith, Tobin Maginnis, Atef Elsherbini, Steven B. Schoenly, Robert Cook and Conrad Cunningham. All the international students office staff, my classmates and the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C. Every one of them contributed in many ways.”

Elsherbeni said Elmahdy was an ideal student during his tenure at the university.

“While at Ole Miss he was very active in seeking new knowledge and in leading several social activities,” Elsherbeni said. “He usually challenges himself and excites others around him about what he learns and achieves. I am glad that his efforts are being recognized by the high-level awards he has received from the Egyptian government.”

Maginnis remembers Elmahdy as a highly motivated student who offers a role model for other Ph.D. students, who after being admitted into candidacy seem to struggle in completing their dissertation.

“His prospects of completing degree requirements in time were further minimized by taking on a broad yet detailed network compatibility problem,” Maginnis said. “With his indomitable spirit of willpower, cheerfulness, positive attitude and continuous goal-oriented effort, Hesham overcame these and other hurdles to earn the degree within his three-year deadline.”

In 1999, Elmahdy published a paper in Arabic about how to improve teaching using the Internet. With more than 1,000 citations, he said he considers it to be a landmark for him.

“My paper reflected the great learning experience I had while in the computer science department,” he said.

“I am so proud to be an Ole Miss graduate, and I hope that I am representing my alma mater in a good manner.”

To review Elmahdy’s activities, go to