In celebration of the 20th annual Student Research Week (March 27-31) at Texas A&M University, the College of Science is taking five with five different people involved in various aspects and stages of innovative research at Texas A&M and beyond. Today’s segment features Ahmed Mahmoud, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Texas A&M in 1987 and 1990, respectively.
Since 2012, Mahmoud has been an agent of innovative R&D-driven change at General Motors — specifically General Motors Information Technology (GM IT) Innovation Center in Austin, where he serves as the chief information officer of four major units: Global Manufacturing, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain (GPSC), Customer Care, and Aftersales and Quality. He also serves as GM’s Executive Champion for Texas A&M.
Mahmoud has spent the past 25-plus years leading teams in enterprise level information technology. His experience prior to GM includes stints as Senior Vice President of Hewlett Packard’s hp.com, e-commerce and marketing organizations; as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of AMD, where he was responsible for managing the company’s global technology strategy, assets and infrastructure to best meet internal needs and serve AMD’s customers; and as Vice President of IT in Supply Chain, Manufacturing eCommerce and other roles at Dell Inc. He also held various IT leadership positions at Eastman Kodak.
In 2009, Mahmoud was named to Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT leaders in 2009, and he has spoken at the Aspen Institute, among other conferences. He also is a University of Texas Senior Service College Fellow and a UT McCombs School of Business VIP speaker.
In addition to being a member of the Texas A&M College of Science External Advisory and Development Council (EADC) since 2005, Mahmoud is a generous supporter of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, most recently through a substantial gift to support the Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival.
Mahmoud took five last year with Texas A&M Science for our 2016 “Learn From The Best” and “I Chose Texas A&M Science” video campaigns, discussing a variety of topics, from why he chose Texas A&M, to why he still considers it a foundational opportunity for students and potential employers like GM seeking independent-thinking problem-solvers — in part due to undergraduate research.
When you were deciding which college to attend, what qualities were most important to you?
“Back then, it was just the prestige of Texas A&M. This was the school to go to in Texas. I didn’t know much about it, but it was such a large school, it had so many majors — it just looked like the land of opportunity. Independent of what I wanted to major in, a great place to learn it was here at Texas A&M.”
In what ways did your experiences in the College of Science prepare you for your career?
“It was problem-solving. I remember one of my first professors asking me, ‘Do you want to be a problem-solver or a formula-plugger?’ I’ve always felt like I wanted to be a problem-solver, and I’ve carried that throughout my career.”
Why is undergraduate research important?
“It gives you a flavor of independent work. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it’s that independent work — that independent thought — because whatever job you get, you’re not going to be micromanaged. You’re going to need to go on your own to solve a problem. Undergraduate research gives you that education.”
What should prospective students know about the College of Science?
“When you graduate, you feel like an educated person — you really do. You don’t feel like you’re just getting a vocational education; you feel like you’ve established a scientific foundation for the rest of your life. You don’t know where your career is going to go; you don’t know if you’re even going to use any of the science you’ve learned, but you do feel like you are establishing a foundation to carry your career in the future.”
In your opinion, why is the College of Science the ideal place for an education in STEM?
“It’s such a large college in capability. There’s a whole slew of things that, when you’re in high school, you’ve never even heard of. At a school like this, all of a sudden there are a whole bunch of things available to you that you would never have imagined. A word is opportunity. The opportunities for you at Texas A&M in the College of Science are just truly amazing.”
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Now in its 20th year, Student Research Week is a friendly competition that highlights both undergraduate and graduate research at Texas A&M, one of the country’s top research universities. The weeklong celebration fosters an environment for students, faculty and administrators to learn about student research at Texas A&M and also gives students an opportunity to win numerous awards and cash prizes. To learn more about the week’s schedule and specific events, see this recent feature article or go to http://srw.tamu.edu/.
For more information on philanthropic support for teaching, research, service and educational outreach activities in the College of Science, go to https://science.tamu.edu/giving/.
Contact: Chris Jarvis, (979) 845-7246 or [email protected]