akhbar أخبار Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar Summer/Fall 2009
Bill Gates Microsoft founder visits Doha as ICTD keynote speaker
ICTD 2009 Bill Gates delivers keynote address at the 3rd International Conference on Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD).
Outdoor Education A unique and effective way of learning. By Darbi Roberts
EducQuest Education assessment by Qatar, for Qatar.
Between Memory, Desert and Sea A Mural by artist Doug Cooper is a gift for Sheikha Mozah.
Special Feature The teachings of Islam help women challenge the practices of patriarchal Muslim societies. By Amal Mohammed Al-Malki
Carnegie Club A catalyst for Qatar’s progress as a global business leader.
From the Dean Collaborative teamwork is one of Carnegie Mellon’s core values.
Qatar News Read about all of the activities on campus.
Focus on Research Saving Time, Saving Lives. Senior thesis project aims to shorten ambulance ride.
Spotlight on Business Administration 22 Tepper MBA students visit Doha.
Spotlight on Computer Science Carnegie Mellon part of cloud computing initiative.
Spotlight on Information Systems IS students continue their global focus.
Alumni Corner 36 new graduates become alumni. Plus two Alumni Spotlight features.
Class Notes Find out what’s happening with alumni and current students.
Pittsburgh Connection Spring Carnival is a century old tradition in Pittsburgh, and still everyone’s favorite activity. By Darbi Roberts
Around Education City Northwestern University is moving into the Carnegie Mellon Building.
ollaborative teamwork is one of the core values of Carnegie Mellon University. When you bring together a group of people with different areas of expertise and different backgrounds and ideas, magic happens. Ever since we came to Qatar in 2004, Carnegie Mellon has been part of the Education City team. We’ve worked with Qatar Foundation and our sister institutions on developing quality educational programs. The universities in Education City also work together on the admission road show and student activities such as Leadershape. But Education City is not an island. We’re here to be part of the Doha community and Carnegie Mellon is here to use its global expertise to aid in the development of Qatar and the Gulf Region. Over the past few years Carnegie Mellon Qatar has formed countless mutually beneficial partnerships all over Doha, and, for that matter, the world. We’ve partnered with dozens of local and multinational companies to provide internship and career opportunities for our students. These companies all attend our annual Professional Day not only to meet students, but also to network with our faculty, staff and alumni. Our Carnegie Club engages industry leaders and faculty experts in discussions on current topics and identifying possible solutions, while our Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program engages Qatar Science & Technology Park, local businessmen and women as well as our colleagues from Pittsburgh. This semester we’ve also forged partnerships that will have a lasting impact on Qatar. Together with Microsoft, ictQATAR and TechBridgeWorld, Carnegie Mellon Qatar hosted the 3rd International Conference on Communication Technology and Development (ICTD). Keynote speaker Bill Gates focused the eyes of the world on Qatar and the Gulf Region. Carnegie Mellon Qatar also partnered with IBM, Texas A&M and Qatar University on the Qatar Cloud Computing Initiative that aims to develop a cloud solution to help solve industry problems. Additionally, faculty from Carnegie Mellon, Virginia Commonwealth and Texas A&M all lent their expertise to budding entrepreneurs as part of Qatar Foundation’s Stars of Science reality television show. Partnerships are a key component for the success of Qatar and everyone who is invested in its future. We hope to nurture the partnerships we’ve developed thus far, and continue to cultivate more as we more forward. As Winston Churchill once said, ‘if we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail.’ My best wishes to you all,
Charles E. Thorpe, Dean
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A publication of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar A member of Qatar Foundation P.O. Box 24866 | Doha, Qatar www.qatar.cmu.edu Dean Charles E. Thorpe, Ph.D. Marketing & Public Relations Department Director D. Murry Evans Media Relations Manager Noha Al Afifi Web Manager Stephen MacNeil Manager of Special Events Kara Nesimiuk Departmental Coordinator Marie Weaver Publications Manager Andrea L. Zrimsek Editorial Board Chairperson Lynn R. Carter, Ph.D. Members Khaled Harras, Ph.D., Starling Hunter III, Ph.D., Gloria Khoury, Selma Limam Mansar, Ph.D., Robert Mendelson, Charles E. Thorpe, Ph.D. Writers Rachelle Emard, Darbi Roberts, Andrea L. Zrimsek Photographers Shauki Alazzam, Saleh Al Khulaifi, Khalid Ismail, Stephen MacNeil, Heather Mull, Sylvie van Roey Copy Editors Noha Al Afifi, Marie Weaver Layout and design Andrea L. Zrimsek Mission Akhbar is the official publication of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. The mission of the magazine is to share the interesting and innovative stories that highlight the university and its role in the Gulf Region and the world. For editorial inquires or reprints contact the Marketing & Public Relations Department at +974 454 8492 Articles and photographs contained in this publication are subject to copyright protection. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the university.
A Royal Opening
er Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, chairperson of Qatar Foundation, and Jared Cohon, President of Carnegie Mellon, together cut the ceremonial ribbon at the official opening of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s building in Education City in February. The entire Carnegie Mellon Qatar student body and 2008 alumni joined Her Highness and President Cohon on stage for the official ribbon cutting. Her Highness then called her husband, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, to the stage to join in the excitement and the photographs. “I was extremely proud to represent my university in today’s ceremony. When Her Highness was on the stage with us, I felt it was a very unique moment where she was sharing the opening of our home with us. It made me feel how humble she is and how we belong to her campus, Education City. This was an outstanding and lifetime event for me,” says Noor Al-Jassim (TPR 2009). In the Scottish tradition of Carnegie Mellon, a bagpiper clad in full Scottish regalia led a procession
into the outdoor Ceremonial Court in Education City. The whole Carnegie Mellon Qatar, community along with guests from Pittsburgh, distinguished guests from Doha, and Qatar Foundation representatives enjoyed an evening of emotive videos featuring students, keynote remarks and the virtual ribbon cutting. The event then processed to the building for a reception
evolution of Doha into the modern day city it has become. The mural - created by Doug Cooper, Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer - is installed in the Carnegie Mellon building so that it can be viewed by anyone who visits Education City. Qatar Foundation provided this facility to Carnegie Mellon so the university can deliver its world-class programs in a state-of-the-art setting.
and self-guided tours. Carnegie Mellon Qatar presented Her Highness with a gift of thanks for her visionary leadership that laid the foundation for the rich partnership between Qatar Foundation and Carnegie Mellon University. The gift is a mural that depicts the history of Qatar as well as the
Designed by renowned Mexican architects Legorreta+Legorreta, the building is located on Education City’s East-West Walkway. This design was purposeful to foster a greater sense of community and collaboration among students, staff and faculty throughout Education City. “Carnegie Mellon UniverSummer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار3
sity has already made a substantial contribution through its teaching programs,” says Mohammed Fathy Saoud, President of Qatar Foundation. “Its first graduates are now participating in building Qatar’s new knowledge-based economy. Carnegie Mellon has shown itself to be an important partner in Qatar Foundation’s mission to lead the country into the ranks of the world’s most advanced societies.”
History of Clothing
o clothes really make the man… or woman? It probably depends on what you’re trying to find out. However, longtime Carnegie Mellon professor Barbara Anderson thinks clothing and the history of clothing can teach us a lot. This spring, she taught the elective History of Clothing to a small, yet enthusiastic, group of students in Doha.
“This course is really about teaching students to learn to see. When they look at books and see what people are wearing, they can determine if sources are an accurate reflection of that period. They can understand how clothing reflects people, places and time,” says Anderson. 4 akhbar أخبارSummer/Fall 2009
Computer Science students took home first and second place in the National Programming Competition in the United Arab Emirates.
History of Clothing begins in Greece around 300 or 400 BC and takes students on a journey of western world costume up through 1900. Students trace shapes, what they do and what they meant to the people who wore them. Anderson points to the toga as a good example. The toga was important to Romans. Fabric was draped carefully around the body in a way that allowed freedom but also had restrictions to movement. “If you disarrayed the folds of someone’s toga, it was considered a slap in the face,” Anderson says. As years passed, clothing began to get more complex and have a greater impact on daily life. The Elizabethan era was full of rich, heavy and bejeweled garments Anderson likens to being trapped in a piece of furniture. In the 1770s, women wore huge headdresses that required them to kneel in their carriages. Jewelers made gold nets for women to put over their heads while they slept to keep out mice and rats. Anderson, who in addition to teaching has designed costumes for productions at numerous theaters and five original musicals, also brought many of her own books on art, painting and sculpture to help students gain a further understanding of the role of clothing in history and in modern day.
wo teams of students captured first and second place in the National Programming Competition held in the United Arab Emirates. In existence since 2001, the contest provides an excellent opportunity for students majoring in computer engineering, computer science, management information systems, information technology and IT related subjects to show their skills in programming and also meet students from other institutions. “It was challenging to compete against the other teams. Nonetheless, it was a rewarding experience to apply the knowledge we gain from Carnegie Mellon’s faculty and courses to a real-life situation, and to actually win the top two positions in the competition,” says Hatem Alismail, a senior computer science student who was on the first place team. “The victory was due to team work and the ability to stay focused for extended periods of time, which were some of the important skills we learned at Carnegie Mellon.” The first place team was made up of Hatem Alismail, Alexander Silverstein (CS2010) and Tessa Eng Yi Luen (CS2009). Second place went to the team of Samreen Anjum (CS2011), Rishav Bhowmick (CS2010) and Keghani Kristelle Kouzoujian (CS2010). Each of the 32 teams was given
nine problems. Both teams from Carnegie Mellon solved seven problems. The third place team solved only six. “This great accomplishment has been a result of a lot of hard work by the students and many others at Carnegie Mellon who have contributed to this success,” says Khaled Harras, Ph.D., computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.
A Journey Inward
nward Odyssey is an elective course that examines travel logs as historical documents. It’s based on the idea that travel logs are better historical documents than most others because when people travel their real views come out clearly. “You learn more about the writer than people being Students in Pittsburgh and Qatar studied together in a simulcast course entitled Inward Odyssey. Taught by Ben Reilly, the course examines travel logs as historical documents. described,” says Ben Reilly, history professor who teaches would want to pursue the discuspeople they’d never meet in the reguthe course. “When people travel, they sion and learn more about the other lar course of events. Reilly is confiare constantly examining novel and group.” Both classes quickly realized dent these encounters will prove long unusual ideas based on their own set that neither side was monolithic, lasting, and points to the Facebook of presumptions. They do mirroring, rather that there were various opinpage that has been created for the which is projecting themselves on to ions on each side. class as proof. the people they meet.” Thirteen students in Doha This is the third time Reilly has enrolled in the course, along with Pop Quiz taught the class in Doha, but it’s the five students in Pittsburgh. Teaching rofessor Ben “Brainmaster” first time he taught it as a simulcast assistant Peter Gilmore ran the class Reilly served as the Official course with students at Carnegie from the Pittsburgh side. Quizmaster for the first Education Mellon Pittsburgh. The change Reilly does plan to teach the City Quiz Challenge. prompted him to drop some logs that course again but is not sure which sedid not cross cultures and bring in mester it will be. In the meantime he new ones that did. is encouraging other liberal arts and Among the 20 logs were the sciences professors to teach similar writings of Egyptian Sayyid Qutb classes. who wrote a log after returning from “I believe this type of class is his education in America as Homer’s vital at Carnegie Mellon Qatar in Fifty-seven students from seven epic The Odyssey and Mourid Barghpart because it’s an extraordinary Education City institutions formed outi’s I Saw Ramallah. experience for students that broadens teams for the general knowledge By studying logs where Arabs their personal and educational horiquiz. Such competitions are popular or Muslims were traveling in the zons. Also because teaching a course at many universities, but none have west or Westerners were traveling in to students on both campuses at the ever been held in Qatar or Education the Islamic world, Reilly created a same time helps legitimize our degree City. classroom experience that mirrored here in Doha,” Reilly says. “The event was an effort to many of those logs. The greatest benefit of the class bring trivia quizzing to Education “Basic differences between the is clearly that of students comminCity as sort of an entertainment classes would come up and everyone gling and getting face to face with sport,” says Varun Arora, Carnegie
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More than forty companies attended the third annual Professional Day to talk with students about internship and career opportunities. Several Carnegie Mellon 2008 alumni attended the event as recruiters for the companies for which they work. This was the first Professional Day to be in the new Carnegie Mellon Qatar Building in Education City.
Mellon sophomore who served as Quiz Assistant. “We took the opportunity to get young trivia buffs together and give them a platform to challenge each other. Surprisingly, the response and also the level of quizzing exceeded our expectations.” Virtually no subject was off limits during the quiz. Geography, science, sports, entertainment, international affairs, IT, lateral thinking and even the world of YouTube were just a few of the topics covered. Though 19 teams started the competition, only 8 teams - made up of three members each - qualified for the final round. Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar walked away with first place, however Carnegie Mellon secured the runner up slot. “I think we learned a lot about bringing the Education City community together by understanding how different university students interact with each other and how a lot of unidentified potential can be tapped. We found enormous potential in E.C. students, and were spellbound by the level of intellect of these students.”
epresentatives from 41 top organizations in Qatar talked with students about potential career and internship opportunities at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s third annual Professional Day career fair. Held every spring, Professional Day gives students a chance to meet and network with industry representatives, and it gives organizations an opportunity to meet a large pool of young talent. 6 akhbar أخبارSummer/Fall 2009
“I wanted to be the one to come and talk with students,” says Noura El-Moughny, a document and records management coordinator at ConocoPhilips and 2008 Carnegie Mellon Qatar graduate. “Being a Carnegie Mellon graduate, I know how well the university prepares its students for the workplace. I know the quality of students who are here and I know what these students can add to ConocoPhilips.” El-Moughny was one of nine Carnegie Mellon Qatar graduates who attended Professional Day to recruit new talent and share a bit about their experiences in the work force with current students. Having company representatives recruit from their alma mater is common practice for many organizations.
Middle East participated in the challenge with schools from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar competing. During the tournament, teams face off against each other with their robots scoring points for completing specified tasks during a two-minute round. “Building a robot and getting it to work is a challenging task that requires a combination of creativity and technical skill in science, engineering and mathematics,” says Brett Browning, Ph.D., Senior Systems Scientist at Carnegie Mellon. “We use Botball to create an environment where high school kids
Robots on the Move
lternative energy and a green environment were the challenge at hand for high school students who took part in the annual Botball® robotics challenge. The autonomous robots, which were created and built by the students, had to construct wind turbines and hydro electrical power stations, and recycle all the waste as well as reduce the use of fossil fuel. “It was amazing,” says Jad Knayzeh, the main programmer for The Al Mawakeb School – Al Garhoud in the UAE. “We didn’t expect to win. My advice for other teams in the future is to test, test and test the robots!” More than 200 students from 26 schools around the
The Botball high school robotics competition expanded farther around the Gulf Region this year to include schools from Saudi Arabia. Twenty-six schools in total took part in this year’s challenge.
On the Shelves are engaged and inspired by the challenge of the task and the competitive element to learn the technical skills and apply their creativity to solve a difficult problem.” This year, Botball kicked off with workshops in Qatar and Egypt. The participants received information about the competition and were given robot kits to build their own Lego© Mindstorm robot. The teams then had eight weeks to create and perfect their robots. The regional participation and interest in the robotics tournament has increased significantly since Carnegie Mellon brought Botball to the region in 2005 with four teams taking part in the inaugural event. This year’s competition was truly regional with the final four teams representing the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The winning team received a trip to Leesburg, Virginia in July to attend the 2009 Global Conference on Educational Robotics and compete in the 2009 International Botball Tournament. Additionally, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel is airing a 14-episode series on Botball.
Stars of Science
ixteen young men and women from the Arab world have been selected from a pool of more than 5,000 applicants for a chance to turn their original idea into a marketable product and take home more than $300,000 as part of the new Stars of Science initiative. But winning a reality television competition takes more than just a good idea: it also requires a lot of planning, preparation and guidance. Enter the world-class universities at Education City. Since the Stars of Science program is an initiative of Qatar Foundation, faculty members from Virginia Commonwealth, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon universities were tapped to lend their expertise. “Stars of Science is a very natural extension of the Education City concept. Bring the right people
n his new book Disaster and Human History: Case studies in nature, society and catastrophe, Carnegie Mellon Qatar professor Ben Reilly examines the relationship between humanity and the natural environment through the lens of natural disasters. A place where Reilly says the interaction comes into sharpest focus. Reilly spent two years studying how disasters have played an integral role in human history from the dawn of civilization to present day. This book shows how natural disasters pose at least as much of a threat to human life as terrorism does. This is Reilly’s second book. His other work is Topical Surge, an environmental history of Southern Florida. You can buy both books from Amazon.com. together with an idea to promote education, technology and collaboration,” says McGinnis. “When folks from Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth are gathered in one place doing the things they do best, interesting synergies happen that you might not anticipate.” Texas A&M faculty members worked with the budding entrepreneurs on the engineering phase of the competition; VCU on the design phase; and Carnegie Mellon on the business and marketing phase. Researchers Wael Ghazzawi and Imran Fanaswala; Computer Science professors Majd Sakr; and Tepper professors George White, Starling Hunter and J. Patrick McGinnis all worked with the contestants on various aspects of their ideas. Some of the ways in which Carnegie Mellon professors assisted the competitors was with flushing out their ideas, creating business plans and learning how to pitch ideas to various audiences. Over
several weeks, each of the 16 contestants received personal assistance and had access to a specially designed workshop fitted with state-ofthe-art tools and equipment. But unlike many reality-type competitions, Stars of Science is non-eliminating. So when a contestant is eliminated, he or she joins of one of the survivors as a team member. This allows for a stronger, more focused business idea for the remaining competitors. From 16 candidates and 16 projects at the beginning, the show ends with two teams of eight students in the finale that will air June 26 in more than a dozen Arab countries. “Stars of Science is all about promoting the idea of entrepreneurship, technology and the power of good ideas being brought to fruition, and harnessing the intellectual power of the Arab-speaking world,” says McGinnis. “Carnegie Mellon is proud to contribute our expertise to the program and we look forward Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار7
to the success that many contestants will have with their ideas.” McGinnis says many of the Stars of Science contestants have come up with interesting and innovative ideas and products. However, a non-disclosure agreement precludes him for talking about any of them. Tune in to the program to find out who wins. Learn more at www.starsofscience.com.
the ride home a bit more grueling. The last cyclist to complete the loop, an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, clocked in at four hours and 15 minutes. Qatar Traffic Police kept a tight patrol on the cyclists and the streets, blocking roundabouts as groups approached and ensured every rider was a safe distance away from speeding vehicles. After the ride concluded, riders, volunteers and several members of the Carnegie Mellon Qatar community enjoyed a relaxing BBQ lunch at the golf course. In addition to the Bill Brown Ride being a day of fun and exercise in memory of professor Brown, it was also an opportunity to raise money. With a suggested donation of QR 100 ($27.40), the ride raised nearly QR 10,000 ($2,683) for the William E. Brown Scholarship Fund. To learn more about the fund or to make a donation, visit www.cmu. edu/campaign/.
CS4Qatar on Steroids
that advancements in most, if not all, areas of sciences, engineering and medicine heavily rely on the constant breakthroughs in computer sciences and engineering.” To that end, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is continuing its wildly popular CS4Qatar program. The two-day developmental workshop is designed to teach high school students about computer science and how it is applied to all aspects of life. More than 300 high school students from Qatar applied for the 120 seats in the weekend program. “Our goal in CS4Qatar is to help spread this awareness among the younger generations. We do so by reaching out to the students and exposing them to technological and computer science basics. Through this work, we hope to plant a seed that continues to grow via the student’s interest, motivation and excitement that result from attending these workshops,” says Harras. CS4Qatar consisted of three sessions. Solving computer science puzzles was the focus of the first session. In the second, students learned to devise solutions to problems and then programmed and tested their solutions using a programming platform called Becker’s Graphical Robots. During the third session, students learned how to program real mobile robots to achieve some
Second Bill Brown Ride
or countries such as Qatar that seek to become a knowledgebased economy, technological awareness is an inevitable cornerstone that must be achieved, according to Khaled Harras, Ph.D., computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. “It is also becoming a reality
yclists of all ages and skill levels turned out at the Doha Golf Club Friday, April 10, to take part in the Second Bill Brown Ride. Held each year in honor of longtime Carnegie Mellon professor Bill Brown, who passed away in 2007, the bicycle ride starts in Doha and heads up the North Road toward the coastal community of Al Khor. Each rider had the option of pedaling a 16-mile loop to Lusail; a 28.5-mile loop to Simaisma; or a 42mile loop to Al Khor. Nearly half of the 85 cyclists chose the full Al Khor loop. A strong tail wind from Doha helped cyclists reach their northern destinations rather quickly, but made
This year’s CS4Qatar was the biggest and best yet. More than 300 students from Qatar applied for the 120 spots.
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Her Excellency Sheikha Hanadi Bint Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani gave the keynote address at the Class of 2009 commencement. A role model for many young people in Qatar, Sheikha Hanadi is a successful business woman and entrepreneur.
predefined tasks. They also were instructed on how Artificial Intelligence works, and were given the opportunity to program a robot to complete a complex task. “CS4Qatar introduced me to a new way of thinking, I learned to simplify problems,” says Nazar Salim Nazar, a senior at Doha Independent Secondary School. “The teachers were friendly and supportive, and worked with us step by step. I encourage students to participate in this workshop because they will have fun and learn new things about programming and robots.” Since beginning in 2007, CS4Qatar has been held twice for high school teachers. This is the third time the event was offered to the students directly. Additional computer science workshops for both students and teachers will be held in the future.
The Class of 2009
f you are looking for your dream job, you will find it at the intersection of your passion and your skills. And if your passions change during the course of your life, don’t worry: Go with it. If you’re short of skills to match your dream job, learn some more. There is a reason that days like this are referred to as commencement. It’s because this is a beginning, not an end. Her Excellency Sheikha Hanadi Bint Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani offered this poignant advice to the Carnegie Mellon Qatar Class of 2009 at the commencement ceremony. Sheikha Hanadi is a leading and influential businesswoman in Qatar and across the Middle East. Recognized for her significant contribution to developing Qatar’s economic and social presence in the Arab world, she is the founder and
chairperson of Amwal, CEO of Al Wa’ab City and Deputy CEO of Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani & Sons Group. Sheikha Hanadi spoke to the 36 members of the graduating class as well as more than 500 family members, friends, faculty, staff and members of the Doha community. The 36 seniors - 28 in Business Administration, seven in Computer Science and one in Information Systems - received diplomas Monday, May 4, in the first graduation ceremony held in Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s new building. “The Class of 2009 is our second graduating class, but they are not a class who are second at anything. They have a lot of firsts – first to occupy the new building, first to go to places like Ghana on a humanitarian mission and first to have a Phi Beta Kappa scholar,” said Chuck Thorpe, Dean. “Graduation is a significant passage to a new phase in your life. Wherever your life leads you, we’re proud of you and proud to have you as part of the Carnegie Mellon family.” The graduation celebration commenced the evening before with the Senior Celebration – an evening of awards, accolades and remembrances. Awards were given out to students for their accomplishments as undergraduate students both for their academic achievement and work in student affairs. In the Scottish tradition of Carnegie Mellon University, a bagpiper clad in full regalia led the formal procession of graduating students, Carnegie Mellon faculty, deans, the university provost, keynote speaker and university president into the remarkable three-story walkway. After receiving their diplomas, graduates along with their families and friends enjoyed a reception marking the end of their four-year journey. The Class of 2009 has students from 14 nationalities including Algeria, Egypt, France, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, USA and Yemen as well as Qatar. Half of the Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار9
graduating class had minors across a spectrum of disciplines from Business Administration and Computer Science to Psychology, Mathematics and History.
Meeting of the Minds
hirty undergraduates showcased posters on research and course projects at the third annual Meeting of the Minds symposium. Meeting of the Minds is part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Undergraduate Research Initiative, which is a program that supports and encourages undergraduate students to participate in innovative research and project work. Some projects grow out of coursework, while others typify Carnegie Mellon’s emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration to solve real-world problems. At Meeting of the Minds, students use posters, video presentations and demonstrations to explain their work to a wide audience.
“Research is in the Carnegie Mellon DNA. We pride ourselves on being a problem solving institution. It is great when students are taking classes but it is even greater when we give them real world problems to solve” said Chuck Thorpe, Dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Students demonstrated 24 posters on topics including Dynamic Path Planning and Traffic Light Coordination for Emergency Vehicle Routing; making use of a camera’s image sequence to convert photos into 2D 10 akhbar أخبارSummer/Fall 2009
Information Systems freshman Rashid Alkaabi explains his winning poster to judges at the third annual Meeting of the Minds undergraduate research symposium.
images; and studies on domestic and migrant workers in Qatar. Other posters focused on the structure of covert networks in Doha; the translation of safety and security messages between English and Arabic to reach the broadest audience possible; and Hala the robot receptionist. A committee of industry experts and representatives from universities in Qatar and North America reviewed the presentations and selected the best projects and posters. Rashid Alkaabi’s project on technology solutions to tackle communications issues faced by immigrant workers in Qatar won best overall project. “The aim of my project is to address immigrant workers with limited or no computer skills. I searched for interviews in Bahrain and Doha. I went to Q-Tel offices to interview laborers and their families,” said Alkaabi. “Last year I was dreaming about being a Carnegie Mellon student and today I’m competing against seniors and winning.” In addition to getting students involved in research, Meeting of the Minds also reaches out to members of the Qatar community and shows them the importance of research and
its benefit to society. Meeting of the Minds has been held at the end of the spring term at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh for 20 years, and has become an annual tradition in Doha as well.
New Venture Competition
arnegie Mellon University in Qatar is teaming up with the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) to organize the second New Venture Competition May 27-28 at Education City. In the competition, university students will have the opportunity to present their business plans to a panel of judges who are venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs and leading educators.
The goal of the competition is to help students who have a great idea for a new venture move it from the classroom to the boardroom. The competition also creates an environment that helps bring new businesses to life, thus contributing to a more vibrant entrepreneurial culture in Qatar. “This is a wonderful initiative for Qatar Foundation and for
the Qatari society. The ideas we have come across are fresh, new and innovative,” says Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman Al Faisal Holding and Aamal Holding, who judged the competition last year. “It is a new milestone for Qatar. We hope to see more and more exciting projects in the future that will contribute to Qatar’s national vision and mission.” The New Venture Competition is an initiative launched by Carnegie Mellon Qatar in partnership with the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) and with support from Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). The inaugural competition took place in May 2008. The first prize of QR 100,000 was awarded to CliniPharma for its plan to introduce a new treatment for asthma to the market. CliniPharma also won the Best New Technology prize, which entailed a year of mentorship to support technology and business development, offered by QSTP. A second place prize of QR 15,000 was awarded to KlearGreen, a façade cleaning robot for buildings. Third place and a cash prize of QR 10,000 went to QALAM, a project that aims to develop educational software infrastructure for schools.
fter final exams, most students would welcome a break from their college workload. This year, 15 students excitedly packed their backpacks once again for a week of physical construction work in the jungles of Thailand. These students were selected from a competitive pool of applicants to participate in the annual service abroad opportunity offered by the Division of Student Affairs. In Chiang Mai, in a small rural hill tribe village in the Pang Mapa district of Northern Thailand, students took on the ambitious task of constructing a four-walled kitchen and dining area for the village community. Students spent hours building the kitchen that will be used for
the entire village to cook and host meaningful events such as funerals and weddings. Before the trip, the students raised $2,000 in donations to make their building project a reality. The money was used to pay for the muchneeded tools and construction materials. Leftover money will be used to continue to buy materials to continue to improve on their building.
“The whole team was so motivated and really had a lot of energy. We were determined to get the job done, and at the end of each day we had accomplished so much,” says Nasreen Zahan, a junior Information Systems student. She recalls working against the clock as the team raced to get piles of sand and rock under shelter before the heavy rains came in. “We formed an assembly lined; pushing each other to move the materials as fast as possible. It was incredible.” Throughout the week, students worked alongside Thai people and staff turning out buckets of manually mixed cement and moving hundreds of cinderblocks to the construction site. Also filtering sand, nailing together latticework made of bamboo and setting the tile for the flooring. On the last day of work, the women of the village came to show their
gratitude by decorating students with fragrant jasmine flower garlands. “We could tell how genuine and grateful they were to have had us there. I am never going to forget my experience in Thailand,” says Zahan. Aside from the intensive service work, students also got the opportunity to immerse themselves in Thai culture. Students explored the hills of
Students built a kitchen and dining area in the small, rural village of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. The entire community will use the new kitchen.
the district and interacted with the people. They enjoyed the fascinating caves of the area and embarked on a 9-hour uphill trek through the Thailand jungle in the pouring rain. Service Learning is an important component to the philosophy of Student Affairs as the University works to develop students who are engaged in and contribute back to their communities. -Rachelle Emard Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار11
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Bill Gates delivers keynote address at ICTD conference “Technology is not for the richest, but for everyone in the world.” This was the message delivered by Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corporation and Co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to an audience of more than 800 at the ICTD 2009 conference that was held at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar in April. Gates addressed more than 350 technology researchers, scholars, practitioners and social scientists who attended ICTD as people who are “invested in the future” and who came together from all around the world to ask questions, identify problems and measure progress. “Poverty is bad for us all. It wastes human potential,” says Gates. “Helping the poorest people is the most important thing we can do. Technology is a tool for achieving that goal.” ICTD, the International Conference on Information and Communication Technology and Development, is the premiere conference for innovating technology accessible and relevant to developing economies. It is a multidisciplinary forum for academic researchers and practitioners to present the latest developments in information and communication technology. Carnegie Mellon Qatar hosted the conference at its new building in Education City. “ICTD is all about using the power of high-tech computing and communications to help the people in the neediest parts of the world build better lives,” says Chuck Thorpe, Dean, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. “Hosting this conference at Carnegie Mellon gives us a chance to show the world all that Qatar brings to this area: the technology of a rapidly-developing knowledge based society, combined with the heart to reach out to less fortunate people.” The conference expanded in several dimensions this year with the addition of workshops, panels and demos to complement the oral and poster presentations in the program. The diversity and number of participants increased significantly compared to past years due in part to the generous sponsors that enabled ICTD to offer a large
number of scholarships. “The two notable keynote speakers also raised the prominence of the conference significantly,” according to M. Bernardine Dias, Ph.D. Carnegie Mellon Robotics Professor and ICTD 2009 Conference Chair. Carlos A. Primo Braga, Director, Economic Policy and Debt in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network at The World Bank, delivered the second keynote address. This was the first time the conference was held in the Middle East. Qatar is an ideal location for this conference because it is committed to transforming itself into a modern country that relies on sustainable development and becoming a regional leader in science, technology and research. As an emerging leader in the knowledge economy, Qatar wants to use technology in a way that can help the entire region by increasing meaningful access to developing communities. Hosting the 3rd ICTD conference will help enable Qatar to achieve that vision. “We look forward to the discourse at ICTD 2009 leading to significant outcomes that meaningfully impact the lives of people in developing communities through the innovative use of ICTs,” said Dias. Carnegie Mellon University was the hosting organization for the ICTD 2009 conference, with the TechBridgeWorld research group at Carnegie Mellon taking the lead organizing role. Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار13
oeducation utdoor A unique and effective way of learning
By Darbi Roberts
By Darbi Roberts
utdoor education is not a new phenomenon at Carnegie Mellon and most other American colleges and universities. Centers, departments, student organizations and even academic degrees have popped up all over the United States in the last couple of decades due to the high demand for this unique and effective method of teaching. It involves a high amount of personal challenge and risk, coupled with team building activities and group support in an outdoor environment. Because the activities involved – ranging from camping and hiking to rock climbing and mountaineering – are intended to put students outside of their comfort zone, the potential for personal growth is great.
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The opportunities for outdoor education in QaMarrakech. Rather they spent most of their time far tar, however, have been limited – at least until this past from the hustle and bustle of life. academic year. Many students participate in sports and The trip started out with a daylong, 40-km cycle go camping in the desert now and then, but these acin the foothills of the Atlas Mountains just outside of tivities don’t offer the same kind of boundary-pushing Marrakech. The group spent the next three days in the opportunities for learning and development. High Atlas Mountain Range hiking up to 8 hours a The Division of Student Affairs realized this was day up mountains and down into fertile green valleys. a missing yet integral piece of the student experience Even though this was the most grueling physical feat puzzle in the fall of 2008 after putting out a survey of the trip, students appreciated the challenge and to the students asking about interest in participating learned about how much they could push themselves in outdoor educational activities. The response was and each other. overwhelming – this was clearly One key aspect was the something that the students wanted. home-stay experience, in which The trip started out with Thus, outdoor education at Carnstudents stayed in the home of a daylong, 40-km cycle egie Mellon Qatar was born. a Berber family who lived steps in the foothills of the The first attempt was through from of the highest mountain a series of weekly paddling lespeak in all of North Africa. Atlas Mountains just sons taught out of one of the local Students interacted with the famoutside of Marrakech. athletic clubs by a certified lifeeven helping bake bread for The group spent the next ily, guard. The first try got the students breakfast each morning. Later three days in the High hooked, and the same group showed in the week everyone hiked into Atlas Mountain Range up for six consecutive weeks to gain a Berber nomad family camp to competence in their paddling abilispend the night in caves carved hiking up to 8 hours a ties. out from the earth. day up mountains and “I never thought that I could On the edge of the Sahara down into fertile green have paddled but in the moment I in the Dades and Todra Gorge valleys. was able to push myself farther than regions, students did more hiking I thought,” says Keghani Kouzoujian and tried rock climbing. None of (CS 2010). The lessons were continued into the spring the students had ever been rock climbing before – not semester for another four consecutive weeks. But it even on an artificial indoor wall – yet every single one was soon clear students were still hungry for more. tried climbing at least once. An initiative was started through connections The amount of group support was beyond what with Qatar Academy tutoring program to be involved any of the students had experienced, even those playin their “School Without Walls” program held north of ing on sports teams. They poured out encouragement Doha. For almost two straight months in early spring, in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenge and Qatar Academy sets up a mini tent village in the desert cheered each other on in their triumphs. That’s the just outside of the community of Al Khor in hopes of crux of what outdoor education is all about – learning emulating a camp environment to teach outdoor skills about yourself and others by pushing to your limits. and environmental awareness to primary and second While these initiatives are only a few small steps ary students. towards a broader student experience at Carnegie Carnegie Mellon Qatar students trekked to Mellon Qatar, they’ve begun to pave the way for more School Without Walls to share Qatari culture with the programs and more interest from students. The kind of Qatar Academy students through traditional games transformation students experience through outdoor and storytelling. While this was another step in the education is obvious in their changed attitude towards right direction, the opportunities were still limited and adversity and that alone justifies wanting to increase left students wanting more. the number of opportunities for students in Qatar. During spring break this March, the Office of By the end of the next academic year, the hope is Student Activities took 12 students to Morocco for to increase the number and variety of activities both in outdoor education. The group spent very little time in and out of Qatar. In so doing, increase participation in the city, traveling only briefly through Casablanca and outdoor education to more of the student population.
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Education assessments by Qatar, for Qatar
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ver the past six years, the being adopted by a number of countries in the educational landscape of Qatar region. has dramatically and rapidly A key factor in the success of EducQuest changed. The entire education is the partnership with local schools and their system is undergoing massive reteachers. Changes and improvements take time, form to transform it into a modern, world-class and having teachers involved in the testing prostructure. Part of the aggressive reform movecess is crucial to achieve over arching goals. By ment is assessing and measuring progress. having this local involvement, tests are tailored “We’re at an interesting space in the eduto the students in Qatar. cational arena,” says Hisham Nafie, founder of In other words, students in Doha will not EducQuest, an educational services and solutions be taking a test written in an Egyptian dialect provider that grew out of the of Arabic. Nor will they take Corporate Innovation and tests designed by a company We test to the national Entrepreneurship Program in the United States for stuat Carnegie Mellon Qatar. dents in the United States. curriculum standards of “Testing has been around for “What’s great about Qatar, We hold kids and a long time in Europe and the what we do is that we are schools accountable to United States, but is relatively the first company to measure what we ask them to be new in the Middle East.” and test solely in the Middle Nafie spent many years East. We don’t test to other accountable for.” working in the field of educastandards from overseas. tional assessment and says he We test to the national cur -Hisham Nafie always had visions of doing riculum standards of Qatar,” it better. A feeling that has Nafie says “We hold kids and inspired many entrepreneurs. He joined the CIEP schools accountable to what we ask them to be in 2007 so he could turn his idea into a viable accountable for.” business. Once the testing cycle is complete, is when While in the CIEP, Nafie met Mohammed Nafie says EducQuest begins its real work. The Khalil, who also had a passion for developing test results, typically the outputs of a testing education in Qatar. Together they took Nafie’s program, EducQuest regards as inputs. idea, created a business plan, developed a sup EducQuest can conduct various psychoport network and launched EducQuest. metric studies of student results to produce com Multinational companies that offer assessparisons and group analyses, and even analyze ments and measurement tools have existed for test results by students’ backgrounds, geographiyears, typically spending short spates of time in cal location of the school and socioeconomic a region conducting standardized testing and levels. By analyzing the data, EducQuest is able assessments. Nafie says the strong suit of Educto gauge the education systems and determine Quest is that it is a locally grown company that where it is improving and identify areas for imis invested in Qatar, its students and their future. provement. “No other company in this field is born EducQuest began with Nafie and Khalil out of the Middle East. Because we’re based in but has expanded over the past year to seven the region, we know our clients. And we possess employees in office space provided by clients. It capabilities in Islamic Studies, Arabic Language is currently working on a project with grade 12, and Social Studies, all of which are subject areas and has since been asked to expand to grades 10 which multinationals fail to accommodate.” through 12. Though now focused solely on Qa While it’s a tough market to break into, tar, Nafie says the plan is to expand EducQuest Nafie says many of their clients were open to the to other countries in the Gulf Region, most of idea of a company created in Qatar. By specialwhich are undergoing similar education reforms. izing in the development of educational solutions “As we like to say, EducQuest is by Qafor government clients in the K‐12 arena, Eductar for Qatar; by the Gulf for the Gulf; and by Quest is targeting the rising student population MENA for MENA. This is our home and we are in the MENA region as well as the rising trend invested in it and its future.” To learn more, visit of education reform and investment currently www.educquest.com.
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Mural by Doug Cooper is a gift for Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار19
t is said that place fixes memory. But what happens when a place changes rapidly or utterly? In the mural Between Memory, Desert and Sea, artists Doug Cooper, Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer have set memories and recounted stories of people in Qatar into portals made up of modern architecture and cranes we see across the country today. By peering between what is changing, this art piece looks back at the pre-history between the desert and the sea and fixes these memories into a more eternal landscape. Like a jigsaw puzzle caught in a moment of frantic assembly, the foreground layers of cranes and buildings show the energy and ambition of this active moment, of this Qatar now. They unfold serially, edge over edge, sliding over the background geography. This is a vision in flux: a metaphor for Qatar itself.
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“We are right now building the city of our dreams,” said a Qatari man to the artists in early 2008 when they began interviewing students and locals amidst the cranes, road building equipment, blue suited and shrouded workers and wind blown sand that mark Doha in this moment of hyper-change. The mural is Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s gift to Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned for her visionary leadership that led to the rich partnership between the university and Qatar Foundation. The mural is permanently displayed on the ground floor of the Carnegie Mellon Qatar building in Education City. The location was purposeful, says Doug Cooper. “This space has tremendous impact. The proximity to admission is a good strategic decision. Prospective students can walk by and get a feel for the breadth of Carnegie Mellon. Then they can decide if this is the place for them.” There is a clear relationship between the mural and the architecture of the building. The mural spans six adjoining sections of wall. The largest section is slightly curved and works like a stage with a series of angles that are presented to viewers as they walk by. Some features, such as a staircase, seem to come right off the wall. The corners and different sizes of the walls make a door feel like it is retreating back in space. “The mural engages you spatially. Images slide optically on your eye as you move, making it unfold like a freight train. Except you are moving and the mural is stationary,” says Cooper. A professor at Carnegie Mellon for more than 30 years, Cooper has been creating large panoramic murals for nearly two decades. The combination of story, history and collective memory has become a general theme of Cooper’s work. The 200 foot-long mural at Carnegie Mellon’s University Center in Pittsburgh shows the city and the Carnegie Mellon campus in three different time periods. The Qatar mural, which was paid for by a Carnegie Mellon trustee, uses images, narratives and portals to tell the rich story of the small desert peninsula of Qatar. It combines geographic and narrative content passed down through generations with a modern bustling city. Cooper, Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer first came to Doha in March 2008. They took
Long lines of immigrant laborers waiting for buses are depicted in the mural. Below left, a staircase in the mural seems as if it is three dimensional. Above left, artist Doug Cooper puts the finishing touches on the mural.
nearly 5,000 photos, talked with dozens of people and drove all around the country learning about Doha’s past, present and future. Cooper then returned to his studio in Pittsburgh and began constructing the portals out of medium density fiberboard that he covered in paper and sketched on. At the same time, Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer worked in their office in Sweden meshing images, memories and scanned notes into vibrant stories to fill those portals. The three worked together to weave stories and images of Bedouins, immigrant laborers and expatriates alongside sand dunes and skyscrapers. Traffic jams, oil pipelines and falcons along with mosques, modern architecture and traditional dhow boats. The simple roots of a small Arabian peninsula with the modernization that comes with transitory oil and gas wealth. Much like Doha in 2009, the mural is old and new. Traditional and technological. Simple and modern. Different and yet the same. As Cooper says, “it’s about these people, in this place, at this time.”
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The teachings of Islam help women challenge the practices of patriarchal Muslim societies By Amal Mohammed Al-Malki, Ph.D.
How is it that Islam seems capable of undermining women and promoting them at the same time? Anyone attempting to take stock of the position of women in the Muslim world cannot help but be confused. One finds stories in the media all the time about injustices committed against Muslim women, such as “honor” killings, child marriage and unequal legal judgments in matters of divorce, custody and inheritance. On the other hand, one also comes across stories about the remarkable strides made by Muslim women in education, career development and political activism in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Morocco and Turkey. How can we make sense of such a dichotomous picture? The answer is simple: by distinguishing the religion of Islam from the Muslims who practice it. Those who study the Quran know that Islam elevated the rights of women beyond anything known in the pre-Islamic world. Muslim women were granted rights in the 7th century, such as property ownership, inheritance and divorce, not granted to European women until the 19th century,
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That said, Muslims who codified the Quran and the Hadith, sayings by the Prophet Muhammad, into Islamic law did not succeed in expunging the patriarchy of the pre-Islamic world from their practices. This distinction between the faith and the various manifestations of its practice is a subtle but extremely important one. When a Westerner is trained to pick up on the distinction, he or she comes to recognize that the Muslim woman who criticizes Muslim practices is not usually rebuking Islam or her heritage in favor of Western ideals -- the kind of rebuke that hits best-seller lists in the West and that feeds Western stereotypes about Muslims -- but is instead summoning other Muslims who claim allegiance to the Quran’s teachings to live up to the holy book’s highest principles. This inward criticism and call to action is often called Islamic feminism, a promising paradigm which seeks change from within, as opposed to imported formulas. While adopting the Quran at its core, Islamic feminism challenges two main norms: the patriarchal cultural customs mistaken for Islamic teaching and patriarchal interpretations of certain Quranic verses. The project of disentangling what is true Islamic teaching from cultural traditions historically practiced in some Muslim territories is an ongoing project for Islamic feminists. Arifa Mazhar, manager of gender issues for the Pakistan-based Sungi Development Foundation, which attempts to mobilize marginalized local communities on behalf of their own development, declared at the International Congress on Islamic Feminism in Barcelona in 2008: “Instead of debating Islam, we should be debating culture and its impact ... There are a lot of social taboos and tribal traditions that oppress women, and they have little to do with Islam.” Islamic feminism’s second challenge is to attempt to reinterpret verses in the Quran -- especially in a modern context -- that have been misinterpreted or over-generalized. One example is the disproportionate weight given to the few Quranic verses giving men authority over women within families
vs. the many others that emphasize equality between men and women. Islamic feminism encourages women to study the words of the Quran for themselves, and to judge whether the misogyny and failure to take women seriously prevalent in some traditional customs is a matter of Islamic doctrine or, indeed, of cultural impositions on such doctrine. In this way, Islamic feminism provides the grounds for changing civil and national law in ways that prove progressive for women. Sisters in Islam, a leading Muslim women’s rights group in Malaysia, has been trying to tackle the issue of polygamy, for instance. Rather than calling for its abolition, the group calls only for it to be limited to certain situations -- such as when permission is obtained from a first wife and a court -- and is working on public surveys that would provide empirical evidence of the negative effects of polygamy on society. Rooted in Islam and the Quranic spirit of equity, Islamic feminism provides a credible political voice for women. It gives women’s organizations, women’s rights advocates and gender scholars in the Muslim world legitimate grounds for action while fulfilling their religious obligations. This article first appeared in The Pittsburgh PostGazette and was written for the Common Ground News Service as part of a series on Muslim women and their religious rights. Sunday, March 15, 2009.
Amal Mohammed Al-Malki, Ph.D., is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. She was the first Qatari national to be appointed to the faculty.
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A catalyst for Qatar’s progress as a global business leader
aunched in the winter of 2007, Carnegie Club was created to promote the success of businesses in Qatar and the regional community through greater access to knowledge sharing. This is done by helping identify common opportunities and challenges faced by the industry, and identifying solutions through greater industry-industry and industry-academic collaboration. During the first year, Carnegie Club events featured a presentation by Carnegie Mellon faculty followed by a discussion and networking session. Dozens of business leaders across all sectors in Qatar were in attendance. The events raised common issues, exposed trends and identified resources at Carnegie Mellon that could benefit the community. “We originally designed Carnegie Club as a networking event because we wanted to enhance industry and academia interaction, and at that time 24 akhbar أخبارSummer/Fall 2009
there were very few events in Doha,” says Anqi Qian, Ph.D., director of strategic initiatives at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. “Now we want to have more focus and give faculty one-on-one time with industry. We want to identify interesting problems, encourage discussion and unveil challenges,” Qian says. Carnegie Club was re-launched in the spring with a plan to bring together a smaller, more focused, group of industry leaders and faculty experts who can discuss a current business topic and the challenges industry faces, and identify possible solutions through collaborations with industrial participants and academia. By limiting the size of the group to fewer than 12, Qian hopes people will feel close enough to share their experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the issues. “This format encourages knowledge sharing between Carnegie Mellon and industry, as well as among industry representatives,” says Qian.
Each semester, four or five topics will be selected based on what is of interest to the industry and what matches with Carnegie Mellon faculty expertise. Guests are selected through various networking channels and among those who express interest. Some modules will be repeated to track and reflect progress made collectively through industry-industry and industry-academia collaborations. The new Carnegie Club kicked off this semester with four modules. First was Green Building Matters, hosted by Professor Stephen Lee and facilitated by Professor Rami el Samahy. This module focused on sustainable building design and challenges in Qatar and the region. Academic and industry experts in port operations and shipping management gathered together for the second discussion Managing Scale and Complexity in LNG Supply Chains, hosted by Professor
R. Ravi and facilitated by Professor Starling Hunter. Strategic HR Management, hosted by Professor Mark Fichman and facilitated by Professor Starling Hunter, was the focus of the third and fourth sessions. Several Education City alumni and HR executives from cross industries joined these discussions on practices and policies that are critical to the success of certain firms. Qian says Carnegie Club is a vital part of Carnegie Mellon’s role in Qatar. “We’re here to be part of the community. So we need to understand what people want to accomplish in business and what their challenges are. From there we can decide how we can bring our relevant expertise to make the greatest contribution in Qatar and the Gulf Region.” Carnegie Club modules will resume in the fall. Discussion content and future sessions will be posted on the Web site during the summer. To learn more, visit http://carnegieclub.qatar.cmu.edu/. Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار25
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Senior thesis project aims to shorten ambulance ride
n a medical emergency, a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death. What route is taken, how intersections are navigated and how much traffic congestion there is, can all affect the amount of time it takes an ambulance to reach the hospital. But what if the ambulance knew the fastest and least congested route? What if the traffic signals were all green before the ambulance approached? And what if traffic was cleared out of the way before the ambulance hit the intersection? These are all questions computer science graduate Hend Gedawy tackled in her senior thesis project. “Traffic is horrible in Doha. I’ve seen ambulances get stuck at intersections because there were so many cars and they could not get out of the way,” says Gedawy. “So I wanted to do something to help people who need medical care.” Gedawy’s project Dynamic Path Planning and Traffic Signal Coordination for Emergency Vehicle Routing builds on the state of the art in vehicle path planning to help save those precious few seconds. She proposes to combine dynamic path planning with traffic signal preemption. Dynamic Path Planning is when a path – in this case the path of an ambulance - is continually updated and changed as more information becomes available. Preemption is when an approaching emergency vehicle overrides a traffic signal allowing that vehicle right of way. By using D*Lite, an informed search algorithm, Gedawy aims to create a system that will reduce emergency vehicle delay while maximizing traffic flow through an intersection. How this works is, traffic signals would be responsive instead of timed, meaning the light would change when vehicles arrived at the intersection. This will keep intersections flowing
smoothly by giving green lights to the heaviest traffic side, thus alleviating possible congestion when an ambulance approaches. If an ambulance were en route to a hospital, it would have a continued stream of green lights with no vehicle congestion along the way. Signal emitters would be fitted to both the emergency vehicle and the traffic signals so when the vehicle was in range, the signals would automatically change. “Basic preemption is not even done here in Qatar,” says Gedawy. “Responsive traffic lights don’t exist so people sit at intersections and wait for a long time when there is no one even coming the other way. It’s worse if there is an ambulance because sometimes people try to move out of the way but there is nowhere for them to go.” Gedawy started working on her thesis in 2008 by looking into projects in the United States and Europe as far back as 1960. From there she looked at more recent projects and thought of ways in which to improve them. For example, some cities have used strobe lights to communicate between the vehicle and the traffic signal, but there were alignment problems. Others use radio signals so the drivers don’t need to take any action. The advancements in GPS technology have aided in this type of research by more accurately detecting locations. Dynamic path planning has also furthered this field by providing up-to-the-second traffic conditions and suggesting an optimal path based on the traffic. Gedawy is hoping these advancements, along with her plan that is specific to the traffic situation in Qatar, will one day be the standard on roads all over Doha. Gedawy has applied for a research grant from Qatar Foundation’s Undergraduate Research Experience Program. Awards are expected to be announced over the summer.
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Tepper students visit Doha
22 MBA students visit the Middle East to learn about the culture and business environment
group of 22 MBA students from The Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, visited Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi this spring to become acquainted with both the culture and business environment in the Gulf Region. While in Doha, the students attended several panel discussions, met with local businessmen and toured select organizations such as Qatar Science & Technology Park and Qatar Financial Centre. “Carnegie Mellon offers various spring break trips to give MBA students an opportunity to explore a new region, visit companies and mingle with industry leaders,” says Yusra Bham, MBA student and one of the trip organizers. “We wanted to come to Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to see the opportunities that exist on this side of the world. And also to compare and contrast the two nations and how they are handling the pace of change,” says Bham. The rapid pace of development in Qatar, along with Carnegie Mellon’s campus in Education City, made Qatar an ideal destination for the students. Previous MBA classes have taken trips abroad, but never to the Middle East. Bham, who grew up in Abu Dhabi, came up with the idea to visit this region because of the unprecedented growth in the Middle East over the past decade. The visit kicked off with a reception
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at Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s new building in Education City. Dr. Mohammed Fathy Saoud, President of Qatar Foundation, addressed the crowd and talked about the visions of Qatar Foundation and the State of Qatar. While on campus the students attended several panel discussions. The first was on business growth and opportunities in Qatar and the Middle East. “Every market is completely different,” says panelist Grahame Maher, CEO of Vodafone Qatar. “You can’t take your values and force them on another country.” Fellow panelist Mohamed Dobashi, Director of the Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and faculty member at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, addressed the importance of relationships and trust when doing business in the Middle East. Panelist Bob Monroe, Associate Dean at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, talked about the rate of growth and the transformation from a natural resources-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. The MBA students also attended a panel discussion on entrepreneurship, which was led by Bowman Heiden, COO of Qatar Science & Technology Park, and George White, faculty member at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. This panel focused on the formal framework for introducing innovation and commercializing local products as well as local talent and imported talent. Shashank Srivastava, Director of Strategy & Planning at Qatar Financial Centre Authority, and Andy Robertson, CEO of MXV Advisors, led a third panel on the economic perspective of Qatar and the Gulf Region.
Carnegie Mellon part of cloud computing initiative
arnegie Mellon is one of three universities in the Middle East taking part in IBM’s Qatar Cloud Computing Initiative. Along with Qatar University and Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon Qatar will collaborate with a community of industry experts, researchers and clients to develop a cloud solution to help solve industry problems. Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. The Qatar Cloud Computing Initiative will open up its cloud infrastructure to local businesses and industries to test applications and complete various projects, including seismic modeling and the exploration for oil and gas. “We are very excited to be working with IBM on creating the
first cloud computing platform in the Middle East,” says Majd Sakr, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon professor. “This will help us realize our vision of developing, evaluating and extending a cloud computing infrastructure in Qatar to target regional applications and projects to help advance research.” Among the many anticipated uses of the Qatar Cloud Computing Center for advanced research include search, data mining, scientific modeling and simulation, computational biology and financial modeling and forecasting. In addition, five pilot application projects have been identified to focus on: Seismic modeling and exploration for oil and gas; Integrating production operation solutions for oil and gas industries; an Arabic language web search engine; testing and migrating various applications using
Hadoop / MapReduce programming methods; and creating curriculum to teach cloud computing at universities. The development of this center will be based on a phased approach. Initially, the universities will collaborate with IBM on building the infrastructure. Next, they will collaborate on developing applications that will leverage the Hadoop programming model as a first step in improving the local knowledge of this new programming model. In addition to the work IBM will do at the Qatar Cloud Computing Center and University of Pretoria, IBM is also working with The Higher Education Alliance for Leadership Through Health (HEALTH Alliance) in East Africa and Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan to use cloud computing. Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار29
continue their global focus
lanet Earth is 510-million-squarekilometers in size, yet new technology makes it seem smaller and smaller every day. Multinational companies, video conferences and the Internet can bring people from all over the world together in an instant. Through various courses that focus on global issues and global awareness, students in the Information Systems program at Carnegie Mellon Qatar are being readied for the global workplace in ways students at other universities are not. “By offering courses with a global focus, our students gain a better understanding of what’s happening outside of Doha,” says Selma Limam Mansar, coordinator of the Information Systems program in Qatar. “Most companies in Qatar are multinational and have offices all over the world. By working as part of a team that is scattered around the globe, students are able to fully develop teamwork and communication skills.” The worldwide concentration of the IS program began in 2008 with the Global Project Management (GPM). In this course, students in Doha and Pittsburgh worked together on project management within the context of globalization. One project focused on designing the information systems new offices in Qatar, another project studied the feasibility of a hightech kindergarten in Doha. The concept expanded this term to include four different classes that ensconce students in projects with various perspectives and diverse collaborators (In addition to the GPM course, Global systems delivery models, global information society and software development project). “By working with people from different cultural backgrounds, students have a greater learning experience and greater understanding
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of the global working environment. They learn to compare and contrast different perspectives and not just rely on the perspectives in Doha,” says Limam Mansar. “Indeed, in the ‘Global systems delivery models’ students in Doha and in Pittsburgh used the very same survey with companies at both ends to compare information technology outsourcing practices.” The most important skill students learn to develop in these courses, according to Limam Mansar, is professional communication. “Communication is vital – especially when team members are not all in one place. Poor communication can lead to a host of problems. And those problems are multiplied when team members are scattered around the world.” Some of the IS courses, such as the ‘software development course’, have team projects where half the team is elsewhere. For example, one team worked on developing a social network to connect Carnegie Mellon faculty and students on research projects. Other classes have globalization issues that require input from one specific group of people. “The conversations in these courses are amazing. Different people have different perspectives and different ideas to bring to the table. It’s very eye opening for everyone. Even the professors learn,” says Faheem Hussain, IS faculty member who was teaching the Global information Society course and had students debating by video conference information technology global policies. One surprise advantage of some of the IS courses was learning to adapt to a situation and find quick solutions to surprise problems. “These courses teach students to communicate and adapt across technology. Sometimes technology doesn’t work and you have to find other ways,” says Limam Mansar. “It’s a good lesson to learn.”
in touch with
The Carnegie Mellon Alumni Association has 36 new members. Twenty-eight students from Carnegie Mellon Qatar graduated with degrees in Business Administration, seven with degrees in Computer Science. Additionally, one Information Systems student from Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh spent the Spring 2009 term at Carnegie Mellon Qatar and decided to receive his diploma in Doha. Worldwide, Carnegie Mellon has more than 70,000 alumni.
Alumni Spotlights Lina El Menshawy (TPR 2008) Lina El Menshawy is a 2008 graduate from the Tepper School of Business. She works for Ernst & Young in Doha, Qatar. As an alumna, El Menshawy has been instrumental in the start up of the Qatar Campus Alumni group. She can often be found on campus hosting professional development workshops and mentoring younger students. In particular, El Menshawy was the driving force behind “08 Answers,” the first workshop offered by the alumni. The intention of “08 Answers” was to give current students a glimpse into life after graduation. El Menshawy was one of several alumni who came back to campus
for Professional Day 2009 to recruit new alums and current students to work and intern for Ernst & Young. Because of her dedication and genuine desire to prepare the next generation of Carnegie Mellon students, El Menshawy is a shining example of what an alumna should be. Amer Obeidah (CS 2008) Amer Obeidah is a 2008 graduate from the School of Computer Science. He has worked for Qatar National Research Fund, a part of Qatar Foundation, for the last year. As an undergraduate student, Obeidah was a standout in the Computer Science department as one of just two senior thesis students in the first graduating class. He has carried his love of the field of CS into his life
as an alumnus. Obeidah regularly comes to campus to tutor students in programming, is a strong advocate for student research and has been involved in various professional development initiatives. This year, he was accepted into Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh’s Masters in Human and Computer Interaction program, a significant achievement that brings recognition to the Qatar programs. He is a great example of an alumnus being an incredible ambassador for the Computer Science program, with both his work ethic in the professional world as well as his role as mentor to current students. -Darbi Roberts Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار31
2008 Maha Abdeen (CS) is working in Qatar with Shell. Ameer Abdul Salam (CS) is a Research Programmer at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Noora Al Ansari (TPR) works with Standard Chartered Bank. Rooda Al Neama (TPR) is working at Shell as a business analyst in planning & support in the contracting and procurement department. Noora Al-Saad (CS) works for Qatar Petroleum. Maha Al-Shirrawi (TPR) is working as a learning & development coordinator at RasGas Company Limited.
Lina El Menshawy (TPR) is a consultant in advisory services at Ernst & Young. She is studying to be a certified associate in project management (CAPM). Aysha Fakhroo (CS) is working with Exxon Mobil. Mustafa Hasnain (TPR) works for the Admission Office at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Salma Kayali (TPR) works in the Admission Office at Carnegie Mellon Qatar Mona Maher (TPR) lives in Canada and works as a consultant with Investors Group in Nova Scotia. Rasha Mkachar (TPR) is working for Qatar Financial Centre.
Nora Al-Subai (CS) is a business analyst developing Qatar Petroleum’s SAP program.
Maha Obaidan (TPR) is employed as a learning consultant for Qatar Shell.
Amna Al-Thani (TPR 2008) is at graduate school at the London School of Economics.
Amer Obeidah (CS) was accepted into Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh’s Masters in Human and Computer Interaction program.
Anum Bashir (TPR) is pursuing a Masters Program in the English Department at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh.
Wesam Said (TPR) is working as a marketing strategy analyst at Vodafone Qatar.
2009 Hatem Alismail (CS) is attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. Najwan Al-Borshid (TPR) will be working for Qatar Foundation. Khulood Al-Farsi (TPR) has accepted a position in the IT Department at Q-Chem.
Maha Al Hanzab (TPR) is working for the commercial and shipping department at Qatargas. Fatima Al Rumaihi (TPR) works for Qatar National Bank (QNB). Dana Hadan (TPR) has accepted a position working in the public relations department of Qatargas. Bayan Taha (TPR) will work for the human resources department at Qatargas.
CS Senior Keghani Kouzoujian wins Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Keghani Kouzoujian (CS 2010) has been selected as one of the Scholars in the 2009 Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship: Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Through the scholarship, Google aims to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, and become active role models and leaders. Dr. Anita Borg (1949-2003) de-
voted her adult life to revolutionizing the way we think about technology and dismantling barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. Borg’s combination of technical expertise and fearless vision continues to inspire and motivate countless young women to become active participants and leaders in creating technology.
Keep your classmates up to date, send your class notes to firstname.lastname@example.org. 32 akhbar أخبارSummer/Fall 2009
Hend Gedawy named Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s first Phi Beta Kappa Hend Gedawy (CS 2009) is the first Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar student to gain membership into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most recognized academic honorary society in America.
Gedawy earned the honor through her strong overall academic record in Computer Science and the high quality of her research work. “Hend is a leader and an exceptional student because of her thirst for knowledge, her academic prowess, her determination and her positive influence on many other students,” says John Robertson, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. Among her many accomplish-
Keghani Kouzoujian (CS 2010) has been accepted into Carnegie Mellon’s Fifth Year Scholar Program. This program was founded at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh in 1991 in response to a proposal from several student leaders and faculty members. It offers an opportunity for a small number of exceptional students to remain on campus for one full year following the completion of their normal course of study. Fifth Year Scholars are supported by free tuition and a $7,000 fellowship. Each student must develop and work on a project that will continue their personal and professional growth and also benefit the community of Carnegie Mellon in a unique way. Kouzoujian plans to bring LeaderShape to the Pittsburgh campus. LeaderShape is an interactive, energizing and unique experience that builds leadership skills. The non-profit organization seeks to improve society by inspiring, devel-
ments are her ongoing senior honors thesis “Dynamic Path Planning and Traffic Signal Coordination for Emergency Vehicle Routing” and her significance as a role model for many other students; especially as a woman in computer science. Phi Beta Kappa accepts only students demonstrating excellence and integrity in the pursuit of a degree in the arts and sciences. Traditionally, membership has been limited to students in the top 10 percent of their graduating classes. Many notable figures have been initiated into Phi Beta Kappa including 17 U.S. presidents. In addition, nearly 100 members of Carnegie Mellon’s faculty are members of Phi Beta Kappa, as well as more than 700 alumni including John Nash, Nobel Prize winner and subject of the book and film A Beautiful Mind.
Keghani Kouzoujian accepted into Fifth Year Scholar Program
oping and supporting young people who are committed to leading with integrity. “I went through LeaderShape as a participant and an on-sight coordinator,” says Kouzoujian. “It had a big impact on me. It helped shape me. So I want students in Pittsburgh to have the opportunity to experience it also.” Since its founding in 1985, more than 25,000 university students
in the United States have graduated from the program. Carnegie Mellon Qatar began holding LeaderShape in the Spring 2007 term. Kouzoujian will spend time during her senior year in Doha working on her plan. She will then head to Pittsburgh for the 2010-2011 school year to work as a Fifth Year Scholar and also attend classes in hopes of earning a minor in music. Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار33
l a v i n r a C g rin
ent v e s u p m ca d l o y r u t n rite o v a ce a f t n e stud a s n i a m re
By Darbi Roberts
sk any Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh graduate his or her favorite campus tradition and the answer will undoubtedly be the same – Spring Carnival. Spring Carnival is a three-day event held in the middle of April that involves different events across campus including concerts, comedians, reunion gatherings, award celebrations, the annual Mobot competition and, most notably, Midway (also called Booth) and Buggy Sweepstakes. Carnival as it’s usually called, is Carnegie Mellon’s oldest tradition dating back to the beginning of the 34 akhbar أخبارSummer/Fall 2009
university. In the early 1900s, there was “Campus Week,” which involved various events across campus such as the “pushmobile races” (a 1920s predecessor to Buggy). Unfortunately, one of the early presidents of the university thought that a full week of events was too much distraction from classes and the festivities were cancelled. Carnival, however, came back in full force as a shorter version of Campus Week, this time as a studentrun organization and it has stayed that way ever since. Carnival kicks off with an Opening Ceremony on Thursday at which time the carnival grounds of Midway are then open to
the public until Saturday night. This allows members of the surrounding Pittsburgh community to play games, ride carnival rides, listen to student musical performances and walk through the booths painstakingly made by student organizations. “Carnival was exciting to say the least,” says Siddharth Arora (TPR 2010), who experienced Carnival first hand while spending the spring 2008 term in Pittsburgh. “I helped out with one of the booths, which people spent a lot of time and money building. Many people didn’t sleep at all the night before the booths had to be ready.” Arora also noticed that in the
Students in the Buggy Sweepstakes build small, aerodynamic vehicles and race them around campus during the annual Spring Carnival at Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh.
weeks leading up to Carnival students were practicing for the Buggy Sweepstakes at 1 a.m. Buggy Sweepstakes is a competition involving small aerodynamic vehicles designed and built by student groups in hopes of having the fastest one on race day. The buggies are pushed around a well-established course of more than 1350 meters around campus by a team of “pushers” and driven by very small but intrepid “driver” at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. One of the newer additions to Carnival is the celebration of Holi, the springtime Hindu festival of colors. Partakers in the festival throw colored powder and colored water
at each other. Students of all cultural heritages are given the same white T-shirt just before the powders and water are unleashed in hopes of creating the most colorful T-shirt. The celebration traditionally ends with a big Indian food buffet catered by one of the local restaurants. Arora cites this as his favorite moment of Carnival. “Holi was the highlight of Carnival. People from all different ethnic backgrounds enjoyed it,” he says. That’s the beauty of the celebration – anybody can participate. As the fledgling Qatar campus becomes more mature and develops its own set of traditions, the need to
transplant traditions from Pittsburgh lessens. The idea of establishing a Qatar version of Carnival has been brought up by numerous students groups over the years. Arora thinks bringing Carnival to Doha might not be such a bad idea. “Something along these lines should definitely be brought to Qatar. Instead of keeping it restricted to just Carnegie Mellon, we could extend it to an inter-college level.” Plans aren’t certain for the immediate future, but what is certain is that Qatar students studying in Pittsburgh in the spring enjoy Carnival every bit as much as the Pittsburgh students do. Summer/Fall 2009 akhbar أخبار35
Northwestern University is moving into the new Carnegie Mellon Qatar building
arnegie Mellon Qatar led something of a nomadic existence when first arriving in Doha. The University spent 3 1/2 years occupying space in the Weill Cornell Medical College Building and one year in the Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) Building before taking occupancy of its own building in August 2008. This summer, Carnegie Mellon will return the favor by offering space in its new building to one of its Education City sister institutions. Northwestern University in Qatar will move in to the Carnegie Mellon Building this summer and stay for approximately three years, depending on the construction schedule of its building. “Everyone at Northwestern is really excited to be moving into Carnegie Mellon Qatar,” says Susan Dun, Associate Dean Admissions and Student Affairs at Northwestern. “We have enjoyed our time in TAMUQ and have found the Aggies to be excellent hosts. At the same time, as our program 36 akhbar أخبارSummer/Fall 2009
grows we obviously need more space and the Carnegie Mellon building is a beautiful place into which to expand.” Around 45 faculty and staff members, along with approximately 80 students will occupy 31,000 square feet on the third level of the building. Northwestern has 38 returning students in the fall and expects to have an incoming class just under 40. Twenty-two of Northwestern’s returning students are studying communications and the other 16 are studying journalism. The incoming class will likely have a fairly similar split. The plan is for Northwestern to have its own teaching space on the third level, However if space is not complete by August, classes may be held in some of Carnegie Mellon’s classrooms. Many of Northwestern’s events and activities will most likely take place in the atrium and East/West walkway. Learn more about Northwestern University in Qatar at www.qatar.northwestern.edu.
A Member of Qatar Foundation P.O. Box 24866 Doha, Qatar www.qatar.cmu.edu