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The VT-MENA Program

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Beyond the 'Burg
From single courses to certificate programs to degree programs Virginia Tech ECE offers a variety of graduate study options for students and practicing engineers - across the state and around the world

VT-MENA

Around the world

The College of Engineering is now making it easier for graduate students in the Middle East and Northern Africa to obtain a Virginia Tech degree. Through the VT-MENA program being hosted by the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Egypt, Tech is offering students the opportunity to receive master’s degrees and Ph.D.s in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science. The program, which has support from USAID, makes pursuing an advanced degree easier for women and working students living with families.

Photograph of the VT-MENA building in Cairo

The VT-MENA building in Cairo, Egypt

In its first year, 18 students are participating. The graduate engineering program is treated as an “extended campus,” much like Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia campus. Classes are taught face-to-face in Egypt by visiting Tech faculty and adjunct faculty hired by Tech or through videoconference communication with faculty at Virginia Tech.

“I’m impressed with the students — they are eager to learn and participate so actively that it can be hard to cover all my material in class,” said Allen MacKenzie, who taught in Egypt in the fall. Both MacKenzie and Lynn Abbott, who taught in spring 2006, agree that Egyptians aren’t as tied to the clock as North Americans and may show up for class 5-10 minutes late — a habit the Tech professors are trying to change as the students prepare for their year in Blacksburg.

Both were surprised at the students’ ability to speak and understand American English — even slang. “I think it’s because of the U.S. movies and television shows they see,” Abbott said. “Shows are aired over their television with no overdubbing, nothing removed. They learn our language and culture — at least one view of it.” Abbott reported that people stopped him on the street to try out their English and welcome him to Egypt.

—Su Clauson-Wicker