Mahdi's Extracurricular Activities
Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Organization (MEGSO)
MEGSO is the graduate student organization of the ME department at ISU that coordinates events for graduate students including learning community for New students, social gatherings, and seminar presentations by students and faculty members. I was the president-elect of MEGSO for the academic year of 2014-2015 following a year of expanding our programs including an added learning community for the incoming ME students. During my term in office, I initiated communication with ME faculty as a means of enhancing the environment for graduate studies. I added a calendar of events for our organization showing the tentative schedule for the coming year and that vision made it possible for our events to be on schedule. We added the Engineering Student council as a funding source for MEGSO after testing a few possibilities that allowed us to increase the quality and the number of events we held for graduate students. We traditionally do fundraising by designing and selling apparel and we had won a grant for our proposed learning community activity that we managed to won that for another two years due to our great achievements. I directly proposed and managed a revision to our constitution at the end of the first year too.
Hiking, Mountaineering, Climbing, Sports
I got involved in mountaineering type of outdoor sport after graduation from college and I owe the whole thing to my friend, Mohammad Mazaheri. I can tell that no single other activity is any comparison for the fun that can be achieved from hiking in remote places. While in Iran, our group had trips to many destinations and later in the US I joined to different groups, one of them was an attempt to climb Mt. Rainier. That was a complete failure for me and I am really hoping to have another chance to get that mountain. I led a team of 5 for a weekend hike on Superior hiking trail lately. It was the first hiking attempt for everybody except for me, and we ended up being totally exhausted after only the first day, but it was real fun.
I have done several sports throughout my life, swimming, football (both American and regular), volleyball, ping pong, and badminton. Every one of the sports is a practice to improve some skills and to challenge myself, mentally and physically.
Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS)
The senate is a formal means for graduate students to communicate with university officials regarding their issues at ISU. GPSS receives part of the student fees paid by graduate students in order to provide them with financial aid for attending professional events, holding events through graduate organizations, and also professional and social events. GPSS collaborates with the Government of the Student Body (GSB) in order to address graduate and professional students' needs in a broader range.
Last year I was a representative of the ME department along with Ruchir Goswami. I was above active in the senate participating in the finance commitee and rules committee by collaborating and initiating great reforms in our allocations procedures. That was despite a body of the executive committee being opposed to any change and willing to keep their old practices. It was quite a challenging ride, but the ending was exciting and disappointing at the same time. The current president nominated me for one of the executive positions and I was planning to involve more in the senate along with the fellow senators. It turned out that the other side, pushed us out by unfair means to manipulate the senators. It was so obvious that they had to ask two of the elected executive officers to step down and I pushed to pass a bill in order to prevent that from happening again in the future. That was the ugly face of politics, when it comes to ownership of power.
Iranian Students' and Scholars' Association (ISSA)
I was the treasurer-elect of ISSA for two terms during 2011-13. ISSA used to have few members before the cabinet I served in and as the number of Iranian students in ISU grew, there was a need for a more active organization. As part of the new cabinet, we set out to regulate events and activities in our society and give it a new better form. Developing a website for ISSA and revision of the constitution were two major steps we took during our term along with holding Nowruz and Mehregan ceremonies as usual. I, specifically, managed to receive funding from the Government of the Student Body (GSB) for the first time that covered part of Nowruz expenditure. We also managed to hold a ceremony to introduce new students to the rest of the community.
Engineering Mentors (E-mentors)
This was quite an experience for me. College of engineering of the ISU initiated Engineering Mentors program in fall 2013 in order to facilitate mixing the student with different cultural backgrounds. The ideas started to take place when they realized that groups of students working on school projects tend to be of the people from same countries based on new statistics. The plan was to have international graduate mentors of the same discipline and domestic freshman mentees meet almost every other week during a semester and vice versa. As a mentor, it was a challenge for me to keep freshman students excited about these meetings. I set out to change the general mindset of American students which is to get a job after they graduate. Our group was one of the two to keep their sessions in the optional second semester and till the end of that year. At least one of my mentees decided to take the graduate school seriously despite already working as an intern and having a job offer. The unique experience here was to get people do what you want, without having the authority over them.
Mechanical Engineering Mentoring
The learning community of MEGSO planned a mentoring program for new graduate students joining our department. We aim to help the department with retaining students after first year and to make the graduate school a better experience for them. I was mentoring first year Master and Doctorate students as a senior graduate student. I was also involved in decision making for the future of this program since I had the experience of the E-mentors from past.