RTVF student listed as one to watch for innovation

October 06, 2011

Rayyan Najeeb and Maryam Jameel-Kakwan (J13) work on a WNUR radio program called "Hip Hop and Hummus" together. Najeeb, "probably the only RTVF, psychology, premed student ever known to man," is active in intramural sports, Inspire Media, and the Muslim Cultural Student Assocation on campus. Photo by Kawther Albader (J13)

Rayyan Najeeb and Maryam Jameel-Kakwan (J13) work on a WNUR radio program called "Hip Hop and Hummus" together. Najeeb, "probably the only RTVF, psychology, premed student ever known to man," is active in intramural sports, Inspire Media, and the Muslim Cultural Student Assocation on campus. Photo by Kawther Albader (J13)

Rayyan Najeeb, a student in the School of Communication's Department of Radio/Television/Film, is due to graduate in 2013, never expected to find himself honored alongside several McCormick graduate students known for cutting edge research. But, that's exactly what happened in September when he found himself on the prestigious list of Illinois Technology Foundation's Fifty for the Future.

"[My professor] nominated me for the award without telling me, so it definitely came as a surprise when I received a congratulatory email from the Illinois Technology Foundation," Najeeb said. "I didn't realize it was an award primarily given to engineering and graduate students, so I'm very honored that they chose me."

Najeeb had been working on a project with Owen Priest, a senior lecturer in chemistry, to help professors create their own educational class videos. Najeeb had taken Priest's class and after watching Priest's original videos with a technical eye, he knew there was room for improvement. Together, Najeeb and Priest designed a video manual for professors looking for information about how to create their own technical videos. Their work earned them a Hewlett grant over the summer.

Fifty for the Future winners are recognized for the potential in their work as well as their ability to use technology in new and potentially groundbreaking ways. Judges for the list are executives from some of the country's most innovative companies, including Abbott Labs, Motorola, Groupon, Accenture and Boeing.

Najeeb attributes his success in large part to the RTVF department. He sees many opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

"RTVF attempts to give students as much real-world experience and leverage as possible, allowing us to take what I gained in the past two years and direct it toward something creative and useful," he said. "I was led to this project because I've been pursuing my interests wholeheartedly. While I don't know what exactly I'd like to do after I graduate, I'm certain that if I continue to pursue what compels me, I will find what I'm looking for."

This is the sixth year the Illinois Technology Foundation has compiled the Fifty for the Future list.
-Cara Lockwood

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