The Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA) recognized eight alumni and four faculty members for their achievements in addition to showcasing various projects by current students on April 29, 2015 at the Jassim Al-Qatami Engineering Lecture Hall, Bechtel Building. “This past fall semester FEA had 2,218 registered undergraduate, 263 master’s, and 68 PhD students, in addition to admitting our first class in industrial engineering, which received the go-ahead only two weeks prior to classes with 38 registered students,” said FEA Dean Makram Suidan in his opening remarks. “We achieved this without compromising our admissions criteria, the most stringent at AUB, and we are awaiting approval from New York State for our MS and PhD programs in biomedical engineering, as well as a proposal for a new program in petroleum engineering which is making the rounds at AUB,“ he added. “This year, and for only the second time, we are giving a lifetime achievement award to a beloved professor and practicing civil engineer, Dr. Zuheir Alami,” announced Suidan. Alami was born in Gaza, got his B.Sc. in civil engineering from the University of Cairo in 1959, and his MS and PhD degrees in civil engineering from the University of Texas Austin. He was an associate professor at FEA between the years 1962 and 1976. At AUB he served on the Student Affairs Committee and was a member of the Advisory Board to the President. While at AUB, Alami formed a friendship with another professor, Dr. Mounir El-Khatib, which led to a life-long relationship and the establishment of a consulting firm, Khatib & Alami. By 1980, K&A was operating in Lebanon, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, and the Kingdom of Bahrain, and by 1990, had extended its reach to all the Gulf and Arab countries. In the last 10 years, Iraq, Libya, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Sub-Sahara African countries, and the United States of America joined its international market. Today, K&A employs over 6,000 engineers, technicians, and administrators, and Since 1984, the firm has been continuously ranked among the Top 100 International Design Firms according to Engineering News-Record (ENR). “It appears that graduating from the Texas Austin is a prerequisite for this award since last year’s awardee, Professor Raja EIiyia, also got his PhD from there,” added Suidan. The conference, which has been held annually since 2001, is also an opportunity for students to spotlight their year’s work, through presentations on projects in their field of study. This year it included innovative projects such as: a 3D Concrete Printing: Machine and Mix Design; Energy Harvesting Pavements: A Finite Element Approach to Real World Applications; Arcas: The Stair-Climbing Wheelchair; and a 3D culture of Neural cells in NanoSilver loaded GelMA hydrogel for brain tissue engineering, all with their potential practical applications.“Our group came across an article about a Chinese company, WinSun, which had managed to print 10 houses in just 24 hours, amazing to say the least, and nothing of that sort was researched or published in the Middle East,” said Zeina Malaeb of the 3D concrete printing project. “And what challenges didn’t we face; we had to do the whole project from scratch.” Malaeb considered what she learned as invaluable, including conducting successful research, setting goals, designing experiments, learning how to write a research paper, in addition to gaining entrepreneurial knowledge that she was never exposed to before in her four years at AUB. Mostafi Kebbi considered that their stair climbing wheelchair would help many physically challenged people to maneuver in nearly all terrains found in a city, particularly in Lebanon’s case where stairs, bumps and steps abound, and would offer its users broader independence. “I learned that in the process of designing a product, the design always goes through changes and tweaks to adapt to availability of components and machining equipment,” he added. “I expect our project to further our understanding of the brain healing process using stem cells and hopefully in the future broaden it to become a clinical application,” said John Saliba of the neural cells project group, which addresses the challenge of the leaking out of the stem cells after injecting it in the site of an injury. “We wanted to see if the hydrogel could hold them in place and induce regeneration of brain tissues.” The group expects to carry out in vivo trials soon to see the actual effects.The energy harvesting pavement group expected their project to build awareness about the idea of geothermal pavements, and gathering momentum to spawn further research and eventually real-world implementation, hopefully on a macro scale, as opposed to isolated case studies.
“A structural assessment of our project showed that these pavements are applicable in light traffic conditions such as a parking structure or a driveway,” said Lala Dakessian. “We were also motivated to study and present a possible sustainable solution in an environment that desperately needs it, and we were eager to be a part of an environmentally conscious research.”
The Alumni Awards included: on behalf of Mechanical Engineering, Distinguished Alumnus Naji Edde; Distinguished Young Alumnus, Bassam Jalgha; on behalf of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Distinguished Alumnus Mansour Karam; Distinguished Young Alumnus Hassane Slaibi; on behalf of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Distinguished Alumnus Kamal Hayek and Issam Hannoun; on behalf of Architecture and Design, Distinguished Alumnus Bahia Shehab, Distinguished Young Alumnus was shared by Mirna Hamady and Elie Abou Jamra. Also four faculty members were honored for their contributions to their individual departments:Associate Professor Daniel Asmar, from Mechanical Engineering; Professor Mohamad Adnan Al-Alaoui, from Electrical and Computer Engineering; Professor Issam Kaysi, from Civil and Environmental Engineering; Professor Salma-Samar Damluji, from Architecture and Design Engineering. “Last but not least, FEA would like to recognize the many contributions that President Peter Dorman and Provost Ahmad Dallal have made to our success,” said Suidan, presenting them with plaques.