By Karen Gilbert
Blacksburg, Va., January 13, 2006 — A new graduate engineering program from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering is now offered in Egypt, giving students from the Middle East and Northern Africa the opportunity to receive master’s degrees and Ph.D.s electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science. Nine students participated in the program’s first semester, and the number of students enrolled is expected to double this spring.
The Virginia Tech-Middle East and North Africa (VT-MENA) program is hosted by the Arab Academy for Science and Technology (AAST) at its Alexandria, Egypt, campus (http://www.AAST.edu). It is also supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
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 or using videoconference communication with faculty at Virginia Tech.
Sedki Riad is director of international programs for the College of Engineering and director of VT-MENA. He works closely with faculty and deans to strengthen the international curriculum and related extra-curricular educational experiences. Riad is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“This program offers a unique model for international outreach that will enhance Virginia Tech’s outlook while providing us with a source of highly qualified Ph.D. students we may not have access to otherwise,” said Riad.
For students in Egypt, participating in the program costs less than traveling to and residing in the United States. The program provides ready access to Virginia Tech’s programs and affords new opportunities for women and working professionals in Egypt.
Three Academy for Science and Technology faculty, Mohamad Abou El-Nasr, Ibrahim Imam, and Mahamed Khedr, traveled to Virginia Tech on sabbatical last semester. Allen MacKenzie, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech, traveled to Egypt this fall to teach for the six-week condensed semester. The other two instructors at AAST were Ayman Abdel-Hamid and Waleed Fakhr. Dennis Kafura, professor of computer science and department head, and Tim Pratt, professor of electrical and computer engineering, taught VT-MENA courses from Virginia Tech by videoconference.
Ayman Abdel-Hamid and Mohab Mangoud from the Academy for Science and Technology will be on sabbatical at Virginia Tech this spring, and Lynn Abbott, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, will be teaching in Egypt for the spring semester. Bill Tranter, the Bradley Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Dennis Gracanin, assistant professor of computer science, will be teaching the VT-MENA videoconference courses this spring.