Teaching Wasn’t Always in Cards for Beyah

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As a 6-year-old boy, Raheem Beyah dreamt of soaring to space and visiting far off planets. He even had the “uniform” — a store-bought costume — ready to go. But something happened on his way to the moon.   “I’m not really sure what changed my mind, but it probably had something to do with a love for video games,” said Beyah, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “In high school, I didn’t have a clue as to what an engineer did. But a counselor saw that my strengths were math and science, and explained that engineering would be a good path for me.”While working on his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Beyah gravitated more and more toward the world of computer engineering and became fascinated with networking and virtual reality.“Working at a consulting firm seemed like the right place for me once I graduated,” he said. “However, I quickly realized that I didn’t like the lack of flexibility when it came to the projects on which I worked — many were not challenging — so I headed back to get a Ph.D.”But it wasn’t until Beyah had an opportunity to teach a class at Georgia State University (GSU) that he had his aha moment.“I was teaching and helping Gary May coordinate the Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science (FACES) initiative at Tech when I realized that teaching and education might be a good fit for me,” he said. “Seeing students that I work with succeed gives me a satisfaction that I can’t get from anything else.”Recently, we had a chance to learn more about Beyah and his time at Georgia Tech.So how did you arrive at Tech?      I earned my master’s and Ph.D. here in the late 1990s/2000s and worked as a research faculty member for a few years. I spent six years on the computer science faculty at GSU and happily returned to Tech in 2011. Tell us about your area of expertise.      I develop algorithms to improve the performance and security of computer networks and computing devices connected to networks. For example, one project I’ve worked on created a method for identifying electronic devices based on their digital footprints — meaning the way the devices interact with various websites, networks, and each other.What is a typical day like for you?I’m usually teaching a class and meeting with my graduate students. I do a lot of reporting to the agencies that fund my research projects. I’m also director of the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Science (SURE) Program, faculty advisor for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, and coordinator of a postdoctoral fellowship program for the FACES initiative. So my responsibilities to these groups keep me pretty busy.  What do you do to keep students engaged in your class?  Cybersecurity is a topic that is always in the news, so it’s easy to make the subject relevant to students’ lives. Also, I really enjoy what I do, so I think I come across as being excited about what I’m talking about, which gets my students excited, too.Where is your favorite spot on campus?     The Starbucks in Clough Commons. It’s convenient and comfortable, so I usually have a lot of my meetings there. Where is your favorite place to eat lunch?     Marlow’s Tavern. The trout is delicious.Tell us the biggest risk you ever took.     Asking my wife to marry me 11 years ago.What do you do in your free time?     I have a 6-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son, so a lot of my free time is spent with my wife and children. I also enjoy being engaged in the community beyond Tech. As a faculty member, it’s easy to just focus in on your area of research. But I’ve realized that knowing what’s going on in Atlanta and being a part of that community is key to my happiness. I’ve served on the board of directors for the KIPP WAYS Academy, which is a charter school in Atlanta. Recently, I was accepted into the Leadership Atlanta program, so that will keep me pretty busy in the year to come.



  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Amelia Pavlik
  • Created: 07/22/2013
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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