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Exploring the Internet of Things with Maher Elshakankiri

Submitted on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A computer scientist and expert in the Internet of Things and wireless sensor networks, Maher Elshakankiri has joined the Faculty of Information as an Assistant Professor (Teaching Stream). He will start teaching workshops on the Internet of Things during the coming winter term. 

With more and more devices connected to the internet and sensors being used in cars, medicine, agriculture and even sports, Elshakankiri encourages students to choose projects in the subjects that interest them most. “I am passionate about working with the students in the different fields they want to work in,” he says, adding that several students have been able to develop published papers based on their projects.  

When Elshakankiri taught similar courses at the University of Regina, students chose research subjects that included everything from how to use sensors to make the most of harsh agricultural conditions in Niger, to how to improve basketball performance using the Internet of Things.  

In the former case, the student was looking into implementing a system that could predict the amount of water needed for agricultural growth, which involved tracking and collecting data about soil and temperature. 

In the latter case, the student examined how Internet of Things, technology, and tools can improve player and team development as well as the fan experience at a basketball game. For example, technology like wearables, cameras, and sensors, can measure things like the distance of the player from the boards and the way the player is shooting. The resulting data can be used to recommend new strategies and techniques for the players. 

The Internet of Things describes physical objects that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies, that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet

While Elshakankiri is an online teaching veteran who has taught online for the past decade, in places like Saudi Arabia, and more recently, at Oregon State University, he is happy to be back in the classroom to teach coding to Bachelor of Information students this fall. 

As much as Elshakankiri enjoys teaching online and believes it has made him a better in-person teacher by allowing him to see things from a different perspective, he likes to be able look students in the eye and energetically move around the classroom. He thinks that the most successful universities in the future will be those that use both in-person and online models. 

“My current pedagogical research is focused on using interactive tools, whether online or in-person, and the effect of using these tools on performance of students,” he says. 

Elshakankiri will also be teaching Programming for Data Science and Data Modelling and Database Design.