Mogahid Fadl – Building Medli Music and Importance of Diversity in the Workplace

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STEAM Boston Mogahid Fadl
Photo Courtesy of Mogahid Fadl

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Will: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mogahid: So I’m currently a senior at Wentworth Institute of Technology. I’m studying Computer Information Systems. I’m also currently co-oping at Eaton Vance. I’m an IT Infrastructure Engineer. I’m very interested in the IT field and wanna pursue that further once I graduate. My first semester at Wentworth, Bertrand and I actually entered Accelerate. We came up with an idea. It was pretty much, we wanted to improve the way music was being played in gatherings, social gatherings. And we ended up with Medli. And we launched that in the fall of 2016. We got seed funding from Accelerate, and we’ve been working on that ever since. We’re planning on hopefully releasing that within the App Store within the next couple of months. And as well as that, I’m working on another business/application, but more news to come from that later.

Will: So what got you interested in Computer Information Systems?

Mogahid: My freshman and sophomore year I was undecided for the most part. I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do or what I wanted to pursue. Most people around me kinda had that figured out, but I was kinda struggling to figure that out myself. So my freshman year I took some general classes as well as gen-eds to try to figure out what field I might be interested in. I knew that I like computers. I loved entertainment, and I also wanted to learn more about business and how businesses were started. So ultimately, which is weird, I went to engineering ’cause I felt like, I like computers, I’d love to understand how things work in a mechanical sense as well as just how different structures are created. So I went to that. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t enjoy it as much. I wasn’t really that good at physics, and I didn’t really enjoy chemistry. So after taking statics, I switched at the end of the year into Computer Information Systems. It had business, it incorporated programming which I wanted to learn, and then it had computer networking courses. And I knew that I was interested in those three, but I didn’t know what specifically. So it was the perfect major for someone who’s kind of indecisive.

Will: Where do you really see yourself in one to two years with this Computer Information Systems degree?

Mogahid: I think that I definitely see myself working within the IT field, one. The second thing is I will continuously wanna pursue Medli. I feel like it’s gonna be a very significant application once it comes out. We haven’t really seen anything like it in the market yet, so I’m very excited to release that. And get some feedback from everyone else. We’re gonna start prototyping and testing soon once the code gets cleaned up a little bit, and then we’ll go from there. I really think that Medli, along with this other application we’re working on, are two great things that can:

  1. Definitely help people, especially young people.
  2. Something that is gonna be interesting for people to see and use.

Will: Tell the audience what Medli really is.

Mogahid: So Medli is essentially a mobile jukebox. You can play, you can request songs and play songs, and it’s done through two different interfaces. The first interface is for users. Pretty much what they’ll do is they’ll go in, they’ll enter a code for whatever party, the “keyword” party, or whatever setting name or title it is. And then they’ll be able to search for a song and send that song request. So that song request will go to our second side of the interface, the host interface, which is for whoever is holding that party, whoever the leader of that store, or whose ever in charge of music or audio for whatever event is going on. They’ll receive all the song requests and populate a live queue or live playlist. And it’ll continue to receive songs throughout the night and play those. Some of the features we’ve added are essential features, and they allow to pause, play, go backward, go forward. And then also some other features that we’re thinking about incorporating in the future, one of them is voting which is gonna be vital. You’ll be able to vote on a song thirty minutes before it plays. And then based off that tally the song will either be skipped, or it’ll be played right away rather than finishing the current song. And then the other thing is being able to shut off your phone, use it in whatever way you want, and the queue will pretty much be able to manage itself.

Will: So you did tell me that you were a Hack Diversity fellow. Tell the audience what Hack Diversity is and where do you see Hack Diversity heading in a few years?

Mogahid: Hack Diversity is pretty much a program that was created by a couple of New England venture capitalists. They wanted to help minimize and get rid of the gap between minorities in the professional setting and the job disparity that many of these companies had where they couldn’t fill these job positions. So the primary purpose is to help provide workshops and internships for minority and underrepresented students. This is to kind of get them into the professional work environment to not only help fill the positions that these companies are looking to fill, but also give them opportunities to find work and be successful within their careers. I think in the next couple of years it’s gonna blow up. At the inception, there were 6 companies. Last year there was 10. And now there are about 15 companies. There are many more companies, I feel like, just in the Boston area that are lacking diversity and looking to fill those roles. So I think in the next two years, more and more people are gonna be reaching out. I think more companies are gonna be looking to them to help them fill their positions. So I think it’s going in the right direction.

Will: In the same space, what are your thoughts about diversity in the workplace?

Mogahid: I guess, outside of my opinion, I feel like it’s essential. The statistics show that people who are at work areas and work environments that have a diverse set of people (whether it’s females, males, people from different region around the world, etc) working together, each person has a different viewpoint, and different perspective of how things can be done or a task can be accomplished. So I feel like putting those minds together helps create or spark that creativity where they can figure out ways to come up with solutions that are not only beneficial then but are scalable. So I think diversity is critical in my opinion. I feel like it’s essential because most of the time we get so focused on one specific perspective, we kind of have tunnel vision, and that can kinda limit the success as well as the opportunities down the road for companies and for people working in the field in general. So I think it’s necessary and it’s essential, and we need more of it.

Will: What extracurricular activities are you involved in at Wentworth?

Mogahid: I’m part of NSBE. Which is the National Society of Black Engineers. There’s also another group that kinda focuses on minority engineers, bringing them together, there’s a professional chapter in Boston as well. And different chapters throughout the U.S. And its goal are kinda the same as Hack Diversity’s to have more underrepresented minorities within the professional work environment and also minimize that gap of job disparity that’s currently going on. I’m also part of MBK, which is My Brother’s Keeper. It’s an initiative started by Barack Obama in 2014. But it’s kind of help, again, minority students and men within in the college and professional atmosphere to help them navigate those workplaces, create a community of similar people where they can reach out to for support or mentoring. And help them navigate the spaces within schooling and ultimately working career. I also breakdance in my part-time. I’ve been doing it for two and a half years now. I really enjoy it. It was something that I started when I got to Wentworth. And I’m happy I did. It helped me get through schooling, but it’s also something I found that I love. And I was able to find a community of people just like myself.

Will: Breakdancing is a beautiful art. Do you have any plans of mixing technology into it?

Mogahid: So, I haven’t really thought that far about it. I definitely want to continue to improve. I believe that it can help improve breakdancing as well as the dancing community in general. I feel like a lot of the resources we have now, and much of the work that’s being done is to kind of help generate more awareness but also make it more relevant. ‘Cause I feel like people kind of get the wrong idea about it. And I guess the wrong impressions. Break dancing is kind of, for those that don’t know, it’s one of the four elements of hip hop along with graffiti-ing, DJing, and MC-ing which is master’s ceremony and then DJ is disc jockey. Because of that, hip hop tends to kind of have a negative view from everyone else. They assume it’s just minorities or black people making noise, they’re doing drugs, and they’re involved with a lot of stuff on the street, and part of that is right.

Mogahid: Hip hop itself started out on the streets as a way for those people who were living in poverty and minority areas in New York to kind of get away from that, escape from it. And find something that they can call theirs. Now I feel like it’s about that but more it’s about maintaining that community and teaching people the essence of what it is, what the culture means, but also in itself, it’s about helping people navigate their paths through life and be able to rely on other people who have similar paths or have felt or experience similar things. Or just been in different adverse scenarios. I feel like technology is being incorporated into it slowly. Currently, right now, they’re just videographers, they’re people who do different lighting elements which is also an art in itself. And they’re using technology to improve the way they throw events, but also improve the way they’re reaching out to different people who are interested in it. I feel like technology could be a massive plus in not only generating more awareness but getting rid of that negative thought, that negative atmosphere that’s surrounded by it and that negative view.

Will: So for students that are thinking about entering the STEM or STEAM fields, what advice do you have for them? What if they’ve never seen a role model before so what advice?

Mogahid: I guess, I wanna address imposters syndrome. I feel like many people who aren’t aware or who are new to the STEM field or STEAM field, they’re not sure what to think about it, and they’re not sure what to do. I feel like doing some research is essential. When I was kinda decided what I wanted to do, what I wanted to pursue, I had no idea. I entered college having no idea. And that’s kind of dangerous. Not only for your wallet but also you were lost, but you have to figure it out quickly continuously. So there was kind of like a time limit for me.

Mogahid: What I did was I asked a lot of questions, whether it was from professors or people who I asked about, I tried to find out where those professors were, where those people that I could to were, and then I reached out to them, and I had those conversations. I also just kind of took courses that I felt interested in but didn’t know if I wanted to pursue to kind of figure that out. I think the best thing to do is get your hands wet. The best way to learn about something is just to do it and try it. And if you figure out, you don’t like it, that’s perfect ’cause that’s one less thing you can check off your list. I think there’s also this just stereotype about it. I feel like people think that they have to be smart in the sciences, they have to know math well, or they have to understand computers, and they don’t know at all. The nice thing about the STEM, the STEAM fields is a lot of the things that are applicable now and especially in the professional work environment, you can teach yourself. And it doesn’t have to be something specific. I think just getting your feet wet and finding something you like, whether it’s a small part of it, that can kind of jumpstart your adventure and open up the doors for you, for sure.

Will: Alright, so let’s jump into the fun questions. So what’s your favorite place in Boston?

Mogahid: That’s a tough question. I wanna say, I like Cambridge, MIT area a lot because of the architecture. I really enjoy art, I love taking photos, and I also love different sceneries. So that whole area is helpful for me because there’s graffiti throughout that area, there are some torn down buildings, some railroad tracks that are not used anymore, they have different art around them, but also the buildings and structures, they’re all created in different ways. And I feel like the architecture in the city is really lovely. And that kind of exemplifies it.

Will: What’s your favorite food?

Mogahid: I love food so much that it’s hard for me to answer that question! I think the most enjoyable type of cuisine I’ve had so far is probably gonna be Middle Eastern food. I was born, and part of my childhood was spent in the Middle East, so I guess I’m biased to that. But after trying out different types of food, I definitely wanna say that it’s just the best for me.

Will: So do you have any wise words of wisdom that you wanna give out to the STEAM Boston community?

Mogahid: I kinda spoke about it before but not knowing what you wanna do or not knowing, I feel like is very important. I heard a saying somewhere, I’m not sure who it’s from, but they said, what’s worse than not knowing anything is thinking you know everything. So I feel like being in a space where you don’t know anything at all is really, it’s an opportunity. I feel like it’s a positive because you’re forced to learn about multiple things and in that sense, you’re able to figure yourself out. And I feel like once you get to that point, you kind of know yourself and learn more about yourself, you’re able to kind of tackle the different challenges and obstacles you’ll face going forward.


Connect with Mogahid Fadl on Linkedin.

Learn more about Hack Diversity here.

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