Eight alumni and four faculty members from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA) were recognized for their achievements in the fields of electrical and computer engineering, civil and environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and architecture and design.
The awards, which went to alumni Malek Chebaro, Soleiman Itani, Mu’taz Sawwaf, the Mashrou’ Leila music group (composed of seven FEA alumni), Marwan Nader, Christian Manasseh, Eva Kanso, and Rana Chemaitelly, as well as active professors Ibrahim Hajj, Mounir Mabsout, Ramsay Hamade, and Lina Ghaibeh, were announced during the 13th FEA Student and Alumni conference, which was held April 23 and 24, 2014 on campus.
“At this conference we not only showcase our current students, we also showcase the many achievements of our alumni who represent the best testament to the quality of education at FEA,” said FEA Dean Makram Suidan.
“This conference is also an opportunity for you to be inspired by some former students who have gone on to distinguish themselves in their chosen fields,” said President Peter Dorman, in his opening remarks.
For the first time, a Lifetime Achievement Award was created and it was presented to “beloved professor, mentor and friend” Raja Iliya who graduated from AUB in 1947 when engineering was still under the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Later, he started teaching at AUB when FEA was established in 1953. Iliya earned a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 1965.“He has led a full career that combines teaching, research, practice and administration,” said Suidan. “Professor Iliyia has taught more than half the faculty members in FEA. He even taught Professor Ayoub (one of the oldest FEA faculty members now).”
The conference, which has been held annually since 2001, is an opportunity for students to spotlight their year’s work by giving presentations on projects that focus on their field of study. Oftentimes, students would come up with innovative projects with potential practical applications.
For the past two years, the conference has also been highlighting alumni achievements, distributing awards to alumni who have stood out in their fields.
This year, the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award in architecture and design went to the renowned band, Mashrou’ Leila, which is composed of seven FEA alumni: Firas Abu-Fakhr, Ibrahim Badr, Andre Chedid, Carl Gerges, Omaya Malaeb, Haig Papazian, Hamed Sinno, who received the award for their “creativity and vocalization of alternative social issues.”
Born at AUB in 2008, indie band Mashrou’ Leila fuses the rawness of underground music with the heaviness of rock sounds. The band also bridges the gap between Arabic folk and pop songs and indie rock, producing new, experimental sounds with a powerful message. A member of the band spoke about band members’ design background had helped in the creation and marketing of the band as a brand.
Meanwhile, Soleiman Itani (BE 2004) received the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award, on behalf of electrical and computer engineering, for his entrepreneurial work in his field. Soleiman and his cofounder created last year a pair of wearable glasses that displays augmented reality in three dimensions as opposed to Google’s two. Itani spoke of his experience during the second day of the conference.
Christian Manasseh (BE 1998) received the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award in civil engineering for his “technical achievements and creativity.” Manasseh co-founded the Human Intellect Lab – a research and investment group that focuses on the use of technology to affect human behavior. His presentation highlighted how digital technology and algorithms can allow scientists to find out whether a teenager is bored and contemplating substance abuse based on their Facebook profile!
The Distinguished Young Alumnus Award in mechanical engineering went to Eva Kanso (BE 1997), associate professor in aerospace and mechanical engineering at the University of Southern California, “in recognition of her outstanding research and technical achievements.” Kanso has been studying models of coins falling in water, which she spoke about in her presentation.
Meanwhile, Distinguished Alumni Mu’taz Sawwaf, philanthropist and long-time AUB donor; Marwan Nader, a specialist on bridges; Malek Chebaro, who specializes in electric drives and control systems; and Rana Chmaitelly, and entrepreneur, also gave presentations. Sawwaf spoke about leadership; Nader highlighted the evolution and new demands of bridges; Chebaro spoke of their own personal experiences in his field; and Chmaitelly shared her experience as a student and later as an entrepreneur who created The Little Engineer®, a Beirut-based Edutainment center geared towards engaging young minds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through hands-on experience.
Wrapping up the two-day conference was a ceremony in which prizes were awarded to the best student projects.
Dean Suidan also revealed during the conference that a master’s degree in chemical engineering has been approved, and an undergraduate degree program in industrial engineering is about to be approved.