Today I got to speak to Bilal Ghader about his time as a graduate student at Georgia Tech-Lorraine! Bilal is from Lebanon, and he got his undergraduate degree there in electrical and computer engineering at the American University of Beirut. When he was originally thinking about grad school, he couldn’t decide if he wanted a PhD or not, so he decided to start with a Master’s degree and see how it went from there.

He is especially interested in the field of robotics and decided to come to Georgia Tech-Lorraine because Georgia Tech is one of the best schools for robotics research. At GT-Lorraine, he’s pursuing robotics research and is currently working on a robot that uses laser scans to approximate its position more accurately than GPS can. In the long term, he’s interested in continuing to do robotics research, whether through a PhD program or through working for a company. “I was looking a bit,” he said, “and I see that there are some good opportunities in France and in Europe in general, so I’m thinking about applying to a few of those.” Depending on whether or not he decides to do an internship next semester or the next, he’ll finish his degree in either summer or fall of 2019.

One of Bilal’s favorite aspects of GT-Lorraine is the small class size and the fact that you can get to know just about everyone. He also likes that this small size allows you to take the classes that you want. In addition to this, he said, “I like the fact that Metz is in a very strategic location. I’ve been to two or three cities already—I’ve been to Strasbourg. I’ve been to Nancy. I’ve been to Luxembourg, and I went to Trier when they did the whole trip. So this is interesting!” He’s eager to take more trips next semester if he doesn’t do an internship now that he has more time and is settled into life GT-Lorraine.

An interesting and cool fact about Bilal that I learned during our conversation is that he enjoys collecting and assembling scale models! Right now, for instance, he’s waiting on an Amazon package that contains both a new car model and a new plane model. “I don’t know how or where I’m going to do them since I’m restricted in space in my dorm,” he pondered. “Basically what happens is that you have gray pieces of plastic, and you start by coloring them. I tend to get creative with the color; I don’t follow the instructions. Then you need to put the pieces together. It’s very delicate and it needs time, it needs precision and focus.”

Bilal also had lots of stickers on his laptop reflecting his interests, and he was kind enough to explain each one to me. Several were from hackathons, others from student organizations for events, and some were fun and artistic stickers that his friends had designed themselves! My favorite was one advertising a Lebanese hackathon called Reboot Beirut, naturally because it rhymed. From robots, to scale models, to hacking and coding projects, I’m sure Bilal’s passion for building and creating all kinds of things will serve him well in his engineering career! Best of luck to you and have an awesome rest of your time at GT-Lorraine, Bilal!