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The Quest For Relevance: Roles For Colleges Of Engineering & Industry In The Arab Gulf States

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

International Engineering Education II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1319.1 - 10.1319.11



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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

The Quest for Relevance: Roles for Colleges of Engineering and Industry in the Arab Gulf States

Waddah Akili

Professor of Civil Engineering (Retired) Principal, Geotechnical Engineering, Ames, IA, 50014


The paper examines the current stance of industry-academia relationships in the Arab Gulf States and argues that meaningful, long-lasting relations have not been properly cultivated. 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 the 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. The paper sheds light on: the mission, the nature, and relevant benchmarks of this collaborative effort. Slanting curricula and programs towards 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.


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 systems 1,2,3,4

The higher education arena interacts in a complex way with a variety of external partners whose role, participation, and expertise must be harnessed to help overcome some of the challenges that have beset engineering education in the Region. Perhaps the most notable partner in this endeavor is the industrial sector whose role and participation in shaping engineering education has, unfortunately, been extremely modest by best estimates. Establishing a beneficial working relationship between colleges of engineering in the Region and industries at large, has proven to

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Akili, W. (2005, June), The Quest For Relevance: Roles For Colleges Of Engineering & Industry In The Arab Gulf States Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14726

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