"I would like to stress that I enjoyed the exposure to graduate study in the Department of Statistics at Virginia Tech.
The supportive nature of the Department and classmates had made my studying enjoyable.
Virginia Tech gave me a wide freedom to read and research the topic of my interest while doing my dissertation."
- Dr. Mahmoud Al-Said Mahmoud
Dr. Mahmoud is currently Dean of Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University and is the youngest individual to attain this position. He obtained his Ph.D. in Statistics from Virginia Tech in 2004 and his bachelor and master of Science in Statistics at Cairo University in 1992, and 1997 respectively.
Dr. Mahmoud’s research interests are Statistical Quality Control and Improvement and Multivariate and Regression Analysis. He has thirty-two refereed journal articles included in such journals as Technometrics, Journal of Quality Technology, Journal of Applied Statistics, and Quality and Reliability Engineering International. He currently serves on the editorial review board for Quality and Reliability Engineering International. In 2014, he was awarded the “Scientific Excellence in the Social Sciences Award” from Cairo University.
How did Virginia Tech prepare you for your career?
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn several statistical techniques and methods that helped me a lot in my career as a statistical researcher and professor. The knowledge I have gained helped me greatly in writing academic articles and publishing them.
Before I joined Virginia Tech I had only one published paper in a local journal. Now, I have published 32 articles in soundly recognized journals, including Technometrics and Journal of Quality Technology, with more than 1700 citations and an H-index of 17, as indicated by Google Scholar Website. This publishing record helped me a lot in the nomination process for the dean position of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science (FEPS), Cairo University. I am always proud to say that I am the first statistician to be named the dean of FEPS.
What made you choose Virginia Tech for your PhD?
When I was planning to apply for a Ph.D. program in Statistics in the year 2000, one of my Cairo University’s colleagues, Alyaa R. Zahran, was studying in the Department of Statistics at VT. She strongly recommended I apply for the Ph.D. program in Statistics at VT since the professors there are highly recognized experts in their fields; for example, Raymond H. Myers. She mentioned that the professors there are publishing many academic papers in highly recognized journals and most of them wrote the textbooks for their courses. She also told me that the town of Blacksburg is a gorgeous area to live with lots of great recreation places and the cost of living is much cheaper than many other places in the states.
Which faculty most influenced you?
Every single person I’ve met in the Department of Statistics at VT has influenced me in some way or another, but I can say that Professor William H. Woodall has most influenced me during my period of study. I am really indebted for his constant guidance and encouragement throughout the course of my study. I have benefited enormously from his moral support, insightful suggestions, and deepest experience in the field of statistical process control.
What skills are central to success in today’s academic environment?
I believe that analytical thinking and verbal and written communication are the most important skills in academia. A college student should have a well conceived idea of what he/she wants to write the dissertation about before choosing the courses to study. Also he/she should seek the advice of several professors, not just the initial advisor, on the best way to pursue academic and life interests at the early stage of the study.
Are there any Departmental stories from your time here that you would like to share?
I would like to stress that I enjoyed the exposure to graduate study in the Department of Statistics at Virginia Tech. The supportive nature of the Department and classmates had made my studying enjoyable. Virginia Tech gave me a wide freedom to read and research the topic of my interest while doing my dissertation. The meetings with my advisor gave me a unique opportunity to learn closely from an esteemed professor.
One of my preferred activities during the years 2001-2004 was attending the Coffee morning every Wednesday. The members of the Statistics Department used to gather regularly at this time of the week to interact and chat with others. These were inspiring meetings for me.
In my first year of studying, a colleague once told me that I have to choose only two of the following three things in VT: get a high GPA score, get a healthy social life, get enough sleep. Thanks to god I have ended my Ph.D. program in 2004 and accomplished the three of them. I’ve kept my GPA very high and close to 4.0 all the four years of studying and published 5 papers during the period of study in highly recognized statistical journals including two papers in Technometrics.
I also had a number of friends from the Department of Statistics and from Blacksburg Community. After graduation, I missed these friends dearly. Finally, I’ve gotten a reasonable amount of recreation and sleep.