A Specialist Solutions Architect in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Gabr uses the tools he gained in the MSCAPP program to support AWS customers on a breadth of issues.
Ibrahim Gabr, Headshot
Ibrahim Gabr

In the two years since Ibrahim Gabr graduated from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, he has helped Hollywood automate its film editing processes, assisted the New York financial service industry in streamlining projects, and aided large American supply chain organizations in rapidly adapting to the impacts of COVID-19.

He has done much of that work by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)—tools he learned to wield while earning his Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) at Harris. Now, working as a Specialist Solutions Architect in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Gabr uses those skills to address AWS customers’ needs.

 Most recently, that has meant helping AWS customers address some of the biggest challenges that COVID-19 presents by effectively employing artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

“It’s an interesting time to be in technology,” Gabr said.

A British citizen who also spent 10 years living and traveling throughout the Middle East, Gabr graduated in 2015 from Montreal’s McGill University with a degree in political science. Less than a year later, he began the MSCAPP program at Harris. At the time, he had very little experience in computer programming.

“When I joined MSCAPP, I had very strong impostor syndrome, because I was so out of my depth,” Gabr said. “At first, I was at the bottom of my class for all my programming assignments. Yet slowly but surely, I became one of the few students who was able to earn an ‘A’ in the machine learning courses. It involved a lot of work.”

Gabr said he chose Harris because of its reputation as a leader in teaching data-driven policymaking. He also was drawn to the faculty, and the ability to learn from practitioners with current, real-world experience.

“That was key for me—that I was being taught by people who literally were part of inventing what it means to do data science for social good. Where else could you get access to faculty like that?”

While learning those programming skills, Gabr was able to put them to good use immediately: he helped with the Data Science for Social Good Hackathon, which taught coding to Chicago Public School students, and he also worked on an app for Chicago Public School students to help them with school choice. Additionally, he volunteered for South Side Civic, an MSCAPP founded student organization that aims to help South Side Chicago nonprofits advance their missions using data and technology.

Gabr said learning in a joint program combining computer science and public policy also helped him view programming and technology through a different lens.

“In the world of technology, people can do pretty much anything, but that doesn’t always mean that they should,” Gabr said. “The MSCAPP program structure helps you weigh the ethical implications of projects related to AI and machine learning.”

Gabr said his MSCAPP experience also highlighted the importance of gaining insight from peers—a benefit he has recognized at Amazon.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who have been in this industry for 10 years, and I do my best to make sure I’m always listening and learning more tech skills to keep myself up to speed. I have many opportunities to grow at Amazon, and I’m glad to work alongside, and continue to learn from, so many brilliant people.”