Mohammad El Hamad, age 22, was a poor student growing up in Saida, Lebanon. He wasn’t great at math and had no head for theory. But he had a passion – robots – and from his earliest years he knew he wanted to be a robotics engineer.
“After failing in high school three times, and knowing that my parents couldn’t keep on paying for my education, I had to choose a major that would land me a job so I could give back to my family,” says Mohammad. “The dream of building robots and my obsession with electronics haunted me badly, but it seemed an impossible ambition given my academic failures.”
Mohammad followed his heart and now he is in his third year studying electronics at the Hadi El Debs Institute in Beirut, on a scholarship that Anera has provided. “This scholarship came to bring hope back into my life at a time when I almost lost it.”
His teachers are so impressed at what he is accomplishing, especially considering his grades in high school. He is an outstanding student who has excelled in every subject. Mohammad even spends extra time in the lab, coming up with innovative projects. Asked about this radical leap, he says, “When my hobby and studies meet I definitely excel.”
Mohammad is devouring research, articles and news about robots. He sees himself building a personal robot for entertainment and for daily tasks. “My robot will dance, sing, and play soccer. It’ll even do the dishes, a thing we hate doing every day,” says Mohammad. “If I have to give my robot a superpower, it will be a ‘solution generator’ for every humanitarian issue.”
When talking to Mohammad you learn that success is less a matter of innate talent and more the product of perseverance. He is willing to stumble and stand up again and again, despite failures and mistakes.
“My aunt was my hero,” he says. “She always taught me never to let go of my dream, never to lose hope, determination and motivation, and always to watch over my family. When she died of cancer, a big piece of my heart died as well. But remembering her lessons bring me back to the path my heart wants me to take. That gives me the strength and perseverance I need to face of all of the terrible challenges that life has thrown at me.”
“My next step is to finish my studies, find a good job and save some money. I want to get into a good program abroad where I can learn more about robotics. My big dream is to come back to Lebanon, establish an electronics company, and recruit young people who have unfulfilled and undervalued dreams.”