July 26, 2022

UCalgary software engineering prof strengthens academic ties to industry

Mohammad Moshirpour brings expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to his role as strategic advisor to Userful
Dr. Mohammad Moshirpour, centre, with Userful's Kashif Altaf, left, and Reza Razavi. Userful 2022

As Calgary’s technology sector continues to gather steam, a Schulich School of Engineering professor says it’s a perfect time for collaboration.

Dr. Mohammad Moshirpour was recently selected as a strategic advisor for Userful, a Calgary-based provider of Audio-Visual over Internet Protocol (AV-over-IP) solutions for enhanced video communication.

This spring, the company announced the close of its second funding round, raising $10 million following seed financing of $3 million.

Moshirpour says he will be able to provide expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning for the company, while hiring PhD students to help with research.

“This is a very revolutionary technology and is a prime example of the types of companies that we need in Alberta in order to diversify our industry,” says Moshirpour, BSc’08, BSc (Eng)’09, MSc’11, PhD’16.

Building relationships with industry

Making connections is a point of pride for Moshirpour.

Whether it’s finding new ways to teach software to his students or helping organize multidisciplinary hackathons with nursing students, he believes breaking down traditional silos is key to taking advantage of the technological evolution. One of those is the relationship between the classroom and industry.

“There used to be a belief that having industry in the classroom was a taboo subject,” Moshirpour says. “However, that created a gap between the types of students coming out of post-secondary schools and what industry was hoping students would have learned.”


From left: Kashif Altaf, VP Engineering, Userful; Schulich students Eshan Singh Minhas, Ideen Banijamali, Yalda Afshar, Ali Salmani, Behnam Nikbakhtbide, Ronak Barati, Alireza Imani, Majid Bahrevar, Mohammad Moshirpour and Reza Razavi, CTO, Userful.

Userful 2022

It's an approach that will help Userful’s goal of helping Calgary become the premier tech hub in North America, says Userful's chief technology officer, Reza Razavi.

“We believe the foundation of this goal is to create a better collaborative environment between universities and the tech industry,” says Razavi. “We are excited to have Dr. Moshirpour as an advisor at Userful to help build this unique technology collaboration with the University of Calgary.”

A positive impact for students

As Schulich’s software engineering teaching chair, Moshirpour says sitting on Userful’s board is another major step in solidifying the academia-industry relationship.

“I strongly believe that working closely with the industry is very important for engineering faculty, both in their research and in educational endeavours. We can offer expertise to each other and learn from our approaches.”

Moshirpour’s main focus remains on the students and how they stand to benefit as partnerships continue to be built.

“As academics, we can define impactful research projects with the use-cases and data from the industry that will help them and provide unique opportunities for our students — both graduate and undergraduates, alike,” he says.

Moshirpour says he hopes it will also give students the opportunity to work on unique, real-world projects to connect the dots first seen in the classroom.