Saudi Arabia International Program Continues to Improve in its Third Year

2014 Saudia Arabia International ProgramSept. 2014 - Saudi Arabia International Program students celebrated the conclusion of the 10-week accelerated session with a spirited Summer Symposium in the Harut Barsamian Colloquia Room. At the event, 13 international engineering students displayed their hard work with posters and oral presentations, while faculty, staff and guests toured the room and voted on their favorite project. 

Now in its third year, the Saudi Arabia International Program is a collaboration between Salman bin Abdulaziz University and the Samueli School of Engineering. Students are matched with engineering faculty whose special expertise aligns with their own 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 their specialization.

Best of Symposium winnersTwo projects tied for the “Best of Symposium Award.” The first, led by Saud Alanazi, focused on using hydrates for efficient desalination. Alanazi worked individually on this project but humbly attributed a lot of his success to the help and one-on-one attention from his graduate student mentor Marco Minniti. The other winning project belonged to Malek Alduhaymi and Mohammed Alkharan. Their project incorporated the construction of an Advanced Crawling Unmanned Vehicle (ACUV). Alduhaymi and Alkharan designed the ACUV as an alternative method to access harsh, hostile or dangerous working environments, such as collecting environmental information in areas with high levels of radiation or neutralizing explosives.

“This is the first time I’ve left my country,” says Alkharan, “and the first time I’ve ever used SolidWorks and Python.”

During their time at UCI, the Saudi Arabian students live with English speaking students, and all of their course instruction is given in English. They spend the first half of their day in English language courses and the second half working in the lab on their projects. The students are paired with graduate students who serve as peer mentors and a point of reference for the students. The mentors also give the international students insight into the life of a UCI graduate student. 

Students displayed their projects at a summer symposiumThe caliber of students continues to improve. The admitted students demonstrate outstanding academic potential and intrinsic motivation, as they are often at the top of their class.

“It’s amazing what they’ve accomplished and that they accomplished most of it during the month of Ramadan,” says Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington at the symposium.  “I’ve gotten around to all of the projects, and I’m very happy to see that over the last two years the quality continues to increase.”

Washington also gave credit for the program’s growing success to its leadership. Associate Professor and Samueli Faculty Fellow Ahmed Eltawil serves as program director, Professor Fadi Kurdahi is the assistant program director and Anis Hammoudeh is program manager.

- Camryn S. Jun, UC Irvine