Saudi Arabian Students Spend Summer Immersed in English and Engineering

Abdullah Alotaibi explains his project involving the structural behavior of thin-walled steel tubes to Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington. Sept. 23, 2015 - A dozen international engineering students celebrated the conclusion of their 10-week accelerated summer session with a project symposium in the Harut Barsamian Colloquia Room. The students, all from Saudi Arabia, displayed posters and made oral presentations, while faculty, staff and guests voted on their favorite. 

 “We all know that engineering is a difficult discipline even when we practice it in our native tongues,” said Dean Gregory Washington. “It’s even more difficult when you’re learning another language as part of the project.”

Now in its fourth year, the Saudi Arabia International Program is a collaboration between Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University and the Samueli School of Engineering. An immersive educational experience that provides extensive engineering and English training, the program matches Saudi Arabia students with UC Irvine engineering faculty whose special expertise aligns with their interests and career goals. The curriculum encompasses fundamental knowledge and introduces tools and programs required to pursue an advanced career in technical areas related to the students’ specializations.

Working in pairs or individually, the students produced seven projects:

  • Flight Control Base Station for Augmented Reality Drone
  • Assisted Driving Model System
  • Experimental Analysis of Laminar Pipe Flow Using the Particle Image Velocimetry Technique
  • Solar Stove Cooker
  • State-flow Model-based Autonomous Rolling Vehicle
  • Structural Behavior of Thin-walled Steel Tubes Under Axial Load
  • Unmanned Crawling Vehicle Power Reduction Study

This year’s winning project was created by Abdullah Alotaibi whose mentor was civil and environmental engineering Professor Ayman Mosallam. Alotaibi wanted to investigate design alternatives for columns in tall buildings. He looked at the structural behavior of solid and perforated steel tubes and concrete-filled steel tubes under an axial load. Alotaibi was motivated to find a high-performing yet economical design for tall buildings, which are popular in Saudi Arabia.

“Each year, we’ve seen a progression in preparation and outcomes,” said program director, associate professor and Samueli Faculty Fellow Ahmed Eltawil. “Since we began, we’ve had two students return for graduate work; one earned a master’s degree and one a doctorate. The intent of the program is to bridge cultures.”


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