An interview with Hamada Zahera, Abbas Adel, and Ahmed Tanahy from Menufia University in Egypt, who set up their own Java community at their university some years ago.
How did the group get started? What are its main activities? And, more generally, what are the popular Java technologies that the community's members focus on? Read on for all the details...
Above, left to right, Hamada, Abbas, and Ahmed.
Please tell us first of all who you are and what you do?
- I’m Hamada Zahera, a staff member at Menufia University.
- And I am Abbas Adel, a Software Developer at ASSET Technology Group.
- I am Ahmed Tanahy. I am doing my military service period in the Egyptian army at the moment.
You are the founder members of the MUFIX community. What is this community?
- We are a group of students, and recently instructors (thanks to Hamada). We aim to do volunteer activities in parallel with our studies to help students and make university life more interesting...
- And more fun... :)
- I want to add that our main goal is to complete the educational role of the university by providing unique opportunities for students to make the most of their potential and to help the educational community.
- I guess no one metioned what the word "MUFIX", in fact, means. Correct me if I am wrong, Abbas, but I believe it stands for "Menufia University Faculty of Information and Computers’ Students", in other words, "MUFICS"...
- ...which is pronounced "MUFIX"!
How did it get started?
- I can remember the first day we gathered at a friend's house to decide what we should do in our summer vacation... I suggested that we study UNIX kernel and make our own academic OS... :-)
- Yes, I can remember that too. However, we found that no one in our team had enough knowledge to lead us. So, each had a task to study a specific topic and share with the others. We spent the whole vacation studying and researching...
...and did it work out...
- ... hmmm... unfortunately we didn’t succeed. But the good news is that we learnt an important thing...
- ...which was that we can’t depend on the faculty to acquire knowledge!
- And that was the real start of the MUFIX community!
- That was the summer of 2005. MUFIX started that summer under the slogan “More 2 Think / More 2 Do”. That summer we aimed at constructing our community and choosing efficient students to be its organizers.
To do this, we started with a small project, as a test to all students who wanted to participate with us. In the summer of 2006 MUFIX started its summer training with designing our MUFIX web application. In September 2006 MUFIX changed its slogan to “Knowledge++”.
That year we aimed at starting our real aim to activate volunteer work in our faculty, by organizing weekly sessions that would explain the job market and various development technologies, such as J2EE technology, web design fundamentals, Introduction to JSP, J2ME Technology, and C# VS. Java Syntax.
In the summer of 2007, myself and 5 members graduated, so that we had to leave the group. Then the group started with a new application (MUFIX online magazine). Next, in September 2007, MUFIX completed its volunteer work under the new slogan “It Is Your Turn”.
That year MUFIX became more popular than the previous sessions. In, approximately, the summer of 2008, a new group of students graduated and handed the flag to a new group of students. This group started with a new project with the "ICraft" company. Then, from September 2007 to June 2008, the MUFIX community completed its volunteer work with the new slogan “Lead Your Mind”.
What kind of activities are organized by MUFIX?
- During the academic year, we focus on training students in new technologies and skills. We also host public technical events and we encourage students to attend global and local events here in Egypt.
- One interesting memory I want to share here... The first JDC conference here in Egypt. Tanahy and I were the only attendees from our university. The next year, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw more than 30 students... including girls! That is when I believe that we "did something" to the people.
- For example, we hosted Fedora Day, as well as IEEE seminars. We also had purely technical sessions about new technologies; JSP, Servlets, Struts, Hibernate, JSF, AJAX, Spring, and much more.
What kind of students come to these events (what year are they, what technologies are they interested in)?
- All students of our faculty are specialists from the computer science department. Plus, they are interested in Java technologies (J2SE , J2EE and J2ME ), database administration.
What are the popular Java technologies in the MUFIX community?
- I can tell you with confidence that web technologies are dominant here, although we also develop with desktop technologies in our curriculum. Anyway, Struts, Hibernate, and Spring are very popular. And a few are interested in JSF and Wicket.
Is the community supported by the university or something else (such as companies)?
- Our community is supported by our faculty only.
What are some of the highlights of what MUFIX has done?
- In August 2006, we hosted the Student Summer Training at HI-Q academy, in Tanta near Cairo. In September 2007, we participated in the Egyptian Engineering Day and won the Best Project award in IEEE-EED 2007 in the Computer Science Field for the "WatchDog" project. We also won the Innovative Project in IEEE-EED 2007, by Ericsson Company for "Idrisian Navigation System”.
- In December 2008, we hosted “Fedora day” in Menoufiya. This was sponsored by the Fedora project. For details, check https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/FedoraEvents/FD2008InMUFIC. We also hosted “Desktop and Web Development with NetBeans IDE”. For details, check http://www.netbeans.org/servlets/NewsItemView?newsItemID=1326. Also, you can find more details here!
How has the response been to these activities?
- Students are very happy with the MUFIX sessions and they feel the difference made by MUFIX in our university. They attend MUFIX weekly sessions because they believe that they can acquire knowledge beyond their studies: they can attain practical experience about the latest technologies outside the classroom too!
- Yes, more and more students join us each year.
- And they appreciate our efforts a lot!
What are some events you are planning in the future?
- More technical and soft skills sessions. We really want to guide students into the open source world. For example, we want to help them to use Linux and get involved with other communities, as well as to get sponsors for their projects!
Finally, here's a pic of Hamada and the interviewer (Geertjan) in discussion at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Cairo, Egypt: