Meet Dr. Hesham Allam, an Assistant Professor at the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) who joined the CCIM family at the beginning of January. 

Dr. Allam is Egyptian Canadian and has been involved in projects all over the globe. He is an established consultant working in business analytics with a consulting firm in Dubai. His research, which focuses on user interface, user interaction, and usability, has also been published in widely respected journals, including some rated as A+ Journals by Scopus indexing.  

As he begins establishing himself on campus, Dr. Allam said he wants to be more than a professor — he wants to help students achieve their academic and professional goals and aims to be available for everything from career mentorship to providing letters of recommendation.  

Dr. Allam sat down with CCIM Outreach Office Student Worker and Senior Communication Studies major Maggey Parker to discuss his career and the future he sees ahead of him here at Ball State. 

Can you tell me a bit about your career leading up to Ball State?

I got my bachelor’s degree back in Egypt, and then I got my master’s from California State University of Sacramento. I lived over there for seven years. Once I got my master’s, I worked as a strategist for the California Governor’s Office. And then after that, I went to Canada to pursue my PhD. I got my doctorate degree from Dalhousie University. It’s a very reputable university, I finished in five years, and I went back to Dubai to work for 10 years as an assistant professor and consultant. 

 I work in business analytics, and I have my own consulting company over in Dubai. We collect information about user behavior and how users act toward certain products. For example, we worked with a bunch of supermarket chains (in Dubai) to allow them to actually put the food out differently in the aisles to help boost their sales, and our clients achieved 30% sales increases when we did that. 

Can you tell me about your field of expertise and what you will be working on during your time at Ball State? 

I’m teaching two courses right now, product management and user interaction. These two courses blend together because they deal with how users perceive certain products or software and how to analyze user requirements for a successful product.  

I’m looking to establish a dynamic research team to help develop and coil the user interface. It is not Human-Computer Interaction, which is how users interact and elicit what users want and how they perceive certain things. When a company does this, they are more likely to produce a successful product. When I say a successful product, I mean something that actually will be marketable and will make ROI, return on investment.  We can actually form our team (at Ball State). I have Dr. Faisal Kalota and he works in this as well. Also, I’m working with Dr. David Hua, and Director John Nichloas. So, we’ll build this research team around this area. 

I’m also here to bring in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). The department is actually missing out on this, so I’m thinking about bringing this software or having a collaboration with the German software company SAP. SAP is well-known in the field, so it could be beneficial for our students to learn how to use this software to land jobs since many enterprises require people to be tech-savvy.

What are you most excited to be working on at Ball State?

I actually enjoy teaching. I enjoy interacting with the students. I hated the courses being asynchronous during COVID, and I think the students hated it as well. But now I actually find myself in classes talking to students, relating to their issues, and mentoring them about their career goals.  

And in CICS we get a lot of students that have biology majors, English majors, but they can’t find themselves fitting in the job market. So, here, we try to give them a taste of IT so they are prepared to touch a different career and they don’t have to be as technically strong . I mean, IT is a huge landscape. The technical part of it is only 10% or less. But the people who do the strategies, the people who do the communication, the people who do the user design, the user requirement, those are people who are people-oriented, so they go and interview people and observe people. 

You need these kinds of people to enhance the IT field, so bringing in these people from different majors to give them the chance to see you don’t have to be a programmer, you don’t have to be a coder to actually come to CICS and be in IT. Find yourself a stake or a place here and you’ll find yourself a job eventually afterwards. 

What has stood out to you about Ball State in your first 40 or so days? 

I like the staff that we work with; they are very friendly people.  CCIM’s Dean Paaige Turner is a fabulous person. She has a lot of soft skills, and she brings in a lot of energy. I met her when I came here, and she was nice enough to come and actually welcome me. She took me on a quick tour, and I can see that she’s loved by everybody. She brings in a lot of energy, and she knows how to deliver, which is a very high-caliber skill that a lot of people are missing.   

Also, the faculty and the staff are very helpful and the students also are very friendly, very helpful, and approachable. I mean, everything is very positive.  

What are some things that you’ve done in your career so far that you’re proud of?

I’ve done some good research in reputable journals – when you do a Ph.D. or a doctorate degree, you need to pursue some research, and it’s really exciting to write something that people will actually reference you in afterward because you came up with this theory, and later on this theory becomes a practice that companies will take and equate in such a way that will be more practical to the people within their organization.  So, it’s really a breakthrough when you find out something that nobody found before or discover something people find worth reading. That is enjoyable for me. 

What is something that you want others at BSU to know about you?

I like to travel a lot. I stayed in Dubai for 10 years, and over there, life is completely different from here, but I enjoy traveling. I’ve been to Turkey, I’ve been to Italy, I’ve been to Spain. I’m also approachable. I want my students to know they can approach me at any time. Office hours is not really the office hour, it’s actually student hour, but you can always knock at the door and come and talk to me, not only for academic purposes, but it could be for industry, career, mentoring, or advice. 

Do you have any exciting projects that you’re currently working on that you want people to know about besides the research team?

Yeah, I’m actually working on initiating the role of artificial intelligence and how to make our work to be more productive. We’re working on an algorithm — me and a couple of researchers — for teachers to use when they have a class of about 100 students, and they want to grade their essays, this can be a very exhaustive process for the teachers or for the professor. So, we’re thinking about an algorithm that can actually be installed or be a plug-in in Google Chrome, or actually in an online learning management system that actually can grade the essays automatically based on the pattern of writing. It can detect plagiarism; it also can actually give grades automatically, so this will make the job easier from the academic profession. It’s kind of like a ChatGPT, but in a better way for the teachers only, and this will help with these tedious tasks that the teachers do.