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25/12/2007

KSA to strengthen engineering education

KSA to strengthen engineering education

 

 

The Adviser Mag –Tunisia - Arab News

 

 

 (MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi engineers constitute 20 percent of the 110,000 engineers currently employed by the private sector, while the market needs 240,000 engineers with the multibillion riyal mega projects on the anvil, professor Abdullah A. Al-Othman, rector of King Saud University (KSU), said yesterday.

 

At a press conference, he said KSU had signed several agreements with world-class universities for upgrading the engineering courses and setting up a center of excellence.

 

Some major multinational companies had also created endowments to promote post-graduate engineering studies, while the university itself had hiked its R & D budget 25fold within three months.

 

The KSU rector was speaking on the occasion of the 7th Saudi Engineering Conference, which will be inaugurated at KSU on Dec. 2 under the patronage of Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation. The theme of the conference is "Toward a Competitive Engineering Environment for Global Economies."

 

Over 300 researchers from all over the world as well as 73 educational, governmental and private bodies, besides 52 academic institutions will participate in the conference that will address the various challenges facing the engineering sector-from the low level of Saudization to making engineering education market-oriented to promoting cooperation between academia and the private sector in the field of research and development.

 

Foreign delegates from Egypt, Syria, the UAE, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Malaysia, India, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Holland and the US are also attending the event, which will run till December 5. An engineering exhibition will be held on the sidelines of the conference.

 

It was also announced that the university will open next year two departments of architectural engineering mainly in the field of interior design for Saudi women to prepare them for a career in interior design.

 

Currently, the ratio of Saudi male and female engineering students stands at 70:30, with the latter figure on the increase. However, there were constraints on admitting more women into the engineering faculty due to the difficulties in attracting female academics in this area.

 

"They are not available all over the world and we are finding it difficult to attract women professors from outside. This section can be expanded if we get a good number of women from this category," said Professor Abdulaziz A. Alhamid, dean of the College of Engineering , in a talk with newsmen after the press conference.

 

Referring to the upcoming conference, Al-Othman said the patronage of Crown Prince Sultan underlines the government's determination to promote scientific and educational sectors.

 

"Prince Sultan has always been supporting and patronizing several scientific, educational and research agencies either in the Kingdom or abroad, besides his generous support for many scientific and research seats carrying his name in various specialized fields in many universities."

 

The rector pointed out that the conference was expected to discuss 168 scientific research papers out of 250 papers received by the scientific committee.

 

The papers were selected according to their relevance to the themes of the conference and to their contribution to achieving the objectives of the conference.

 

This would enable the participants to exchange views and share their experience in overcoming the challenges facing the engineering profession.

 

Asked by Arab News how KSU would be responding to the emerging challenges with six economic cities on the anvil and tens of thousands of engineering jobs in the pipeline, Professor Al-Othman said KSU had wrapped up agreements with several world class universities for setting up a center of excellence on the campus.

 

Their expertise would also be sought in upgrading the engineering courses and instituting chair for advanced studies in this field.

 

He mentioned the universities of Michigan, California, Singapore , among other world-class institutions, whose cooperation would be sought.

 

Alhamid said the Kingdom, including KSU, was going into an overdrive to cope with the challenges looming ahead.

 

The number of universities has gone up from eight in the past to 20 at present, while the 2007 national budget has allocated SR 25 billion for higher education. As a result, three private universities, 17 private colleges and more than 158 colleges have been established during the last four colleges, reflecting the growing demand for engineering studies. Other faculties that are sought after include medicine, pharmacy and computer science.

 

He said KSU, whose R & D budget used to stand at SR1 million annually in the past, has zoomed to SR25 million within three months and was projected to stand at SR 200 million as part of the future plan. There will be greater cooperation between the academia and the private sector in R & D in addition to the ongoing cooperation with King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology in this sector.

 

Alhamid said more than 30,000 Saudi students had gone abroad for higher studies, including Master's degree and Ph.D "We are trying to attract over 300 non-Saudi students for post-graduate studies. They include 20 students who will be coming from Pakistan, besides others from Indonesia, Yemen and other countries to study at the College of Engineering ," he said, adding there was a huge competition among Saudi universities to attract qualified and talented students. Source http://www.menafn.com

 

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