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On Reform Of Engineering Education In The Arab Gulf States: A Focus On Pre Engineering “Prep Program”

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

International Engineering Education I

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.887.1 - 8.887.16



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Paper Authors

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Waddah Akili

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2160

On Reform of Engineering Education in the Arab Gulf States: A Focus on Pre-Engineering “Prep-Program”


W. Akili Professor of Civil Engineering (retired)


Engineering education in the Arab Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Sultanate of Oman) faces many challenges today. Changes in the external environment (e.g. reduced funding, increased costs, demands by industry for well-seasoned graduates, and rapid advances in technology) coupled with the quest for educational relevance in undergraduate engineering, are forcing colleges of engineering in the Region (the Arab Gulf States) to “rethink” engineering education and to undertake constructive steps towards reforming the current system.

The higher education arena interacts in a complex way with a variety of external partners whose role, participation, and expertise must be harnessed to overcome the challenges ahead. The most prominent partner of all is the pre-college community (elementary, intermediate, and primary schools). Graduates of primary schools in the Region are the main pool for undergraduate student body. Concerned individuals - both administrators and faculty- recognize the need for some sort of a working relationship between the college of engineering and the K-12 community, to help insure a smooth transfer of primary school graduates into engineering.

The current state of pre-college education in the Region- and in public schools in particular- is in dire need of reform. It suffers from obsolescence, rigidity, and a passive approach to the transmission of knowledge. It is also burdened with inflexible and creativity-suppressing examination procedures that have adversely affected the quality of education at large. These systems have produced weaknesses in primary school graduates over decades. Unfortunately, decision makers have been reluctant and slow to respond. Unless rectified, deficiencies in pre- college education (K-12) will continue to have negative effects on engineering students’ abilities to grasp, retain and assimilate new knowledge.

The paper sheds light on the multi-faceted and complex issues of pre- college education in the Arab Gulf States, and argues for urgently needed reform of the public school systems in the Region. For the present, and until existing K-12 systems are reformed, a well-structured, two-year pre-engineering “prep- program”, intended to rectify the pre-college education, for those that elect to get into engineering, is the plausible alternative.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright© 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Akili, W. (2003, June), On Reform Of Engineering Education In The Arab Gulf States: A Focus On Pre Engineering “Prep Program” Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11910

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