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On Bridging the Gap between Academia and Industry in the Arab Gulf States: Views, Challenges, and Potential Rewards

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session III: Collaboration

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for over 40 years. He has held academic positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penna (66-69), at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (69-87), and at the University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar (87-00). Professor Akili’s major field is geotechnical engineering and materials. His research work & experience include: characterization of arid and semi arid soils, piled foundations, pavement design & materials, and concrete durability. His interests also include: contemporary issues of engineering education in general, and those of the Middle East and the Arab Gulf States in particular.

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On Bridging the Gap between Academia and Industry in the Arab Gulf States: Views, Challenges, and Potential Rewards


The paper focuses on the current stance of industry-academia relationships in the Arab Gulf States( Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates), and argues that meaningful, long-lasting relations have begun to develop. But, there is much more that can and must be done. The paper calls for increased “relevancy” of engineering education, with greater industry-academia collaboration on many fronts. It was inspired by a round table discussion, where engineering graduates of Region’s colleges have suggested ways to start developing viable and enduring connections between local industries and the academic institutions of the Arab Gulf States. Strategies to help promote the collaboration effort are outlined. In particular, activities (plans, and scenarios) perceived as effective in closing the gap between academia and industries are described. Training, capstone courses, consulting by faculty and joint research projects, aimed at serving the interest of both parties (academia & the industrial partners) are also addressed.

The paper sheds light on: the mission, the nature, and relevant benchmarks of this collaborative effort. Slanting curricula and programs toward industrial relevance and the “practice”, regarded by many as a step in the right direction, will help equip graduates with the “tools of the trade”, thus lessening the burden on the industry in the locale, in having to spend time and effort preparing and training employees at the start of their career. If engineering faculty and program planners, would slant curricula and programs more in the direction of “industrial relevance” and the “practice”, it would help a great deal in equipping engineering graduates with the “tools of the trade” thus lessening the burden on the industries.

In this endeavor, the authors draw on their own experience as: faculty members, administrators, and industry personnel in the Arab Gulf States; in addition to views and suggestions of: colleagues, students, graduates, and business leaders in the Region. The paper presents some differing views on the potential collaborative roles for academia and industry and their interrelationships. Our objective is to further motivate Region’s educators and their institutions to collaborate with local industry and move toward greater relevancy into engineering education.

Akili, W. (2016, June), On Bridging the Gap between Academia and Industry in the Arab Gulf States: Views, Challenges, and Potential Rewards Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25822

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