Moving from Private Industry to Academia
Kent State Today is following a group of Golden Flashes for the 2023-'24 academic year chronicling their efforts and successes during the fall and spring semesters. The group includes students, faculty and administrators who are at different places on their Kent State University journey.
When Raiful Hasan, Ph.D., decided to leave his job in his native Bangladesh to pursue his doctorate degree at an American university, his intention was to return to a job in the private sector upon graduation.
A new assistant professor in Kent State's Department of Computer Science, Hasan previously worked as a computer software developer for two different companies in Bangladesh and expected to return to his profession following his schooling.
All that changed, when, as a doctoral candidate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Hasan was selected to join the editorial board of XRDS: Crossroads, the Magazine for Students, produced by the Association for Computing Machinery, the largest professional organization for advancing computing as a science and a profession.
The main goal of the magazine is to explain the latest computer research to student researchers, so they can stay on top of innovations in the field. Other members of the board were from top research universities, including MIT, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon.
“That was actually a turning point that got me interested in academia,” Hasan said.
As a member of the editorial board, Hasan became aware of how much computing research is going on at the university level; he also met many of the professors and researchers conducting that research and was able to talk with them about their discoveries and findings.
“They shared how they conducted their research and encouraged me, and we published stories on their research,” Hasan said, noting how the experience helped to draw him into academic life.
As work on his doctorate was nearing completion, Hasan decided to pursue an academic role. He applied for 20 positions at various universities, interviewed at eight, and was offered six different positions, including one as an assistant professor of computer science at Kent State University.
The reason he accepted the offer at Kent State, Hasan said, was the feeling he got from the faculty and students during his interview last February.
“All the faculty were very nice, and they were very happy,” Hasan said.
He observed that many of the faculty he met have served at the university for 20 years or more.
“That means they are happy here, that the university is doing something for them and that’s why they’re staying here for such a long time,” Hasan said.
He also liked Kent’s location – in a small town, but close to the large urban area of Cleveland – for the best-of-both-worlds environment the university offered.
For now, Hasan is getting used to university life, teaching his first course, and working on setting up his research lab.
He graduated from Alabama on Aug. 11, the same day his wife, Taiaba Afrin, also received her doctorate in biology. The couple moved to Kent three days later.
“The U.S. academic environment is very supportive,” Hasan said.