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FEA-BDD: A Collaboration in the Direction of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
3/27/2017
Dana Abed  |  Office of Advancement  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 

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The faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA) at AUB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Beirut Digital District (BDD). FEA, keen on enhancing the entrepreneurship initiatives at AUB, has agreed on an action plan that would allow FEA students to explore entrepreneurship in partnership with BDD.
 
The MoU was signed in a ceremony on Friday, March 24, which was attended by FEA professors, BDD representatives, students, and entrepreneurship enthusiasts. 
During the opening ceremony, interim FEA Dean, Dr. Alan Shihadeh, emphasized the importance of AUB in supplying brilliant talent. Shihadeh said that the influence of our graduate is visible, making the world “viable, livable, and equitable.”

Shihadeh spoke about the role that the engineering and architecture disciplines play in finding solutions. For this reason, he said, the curricula at FEA are currently being revised to include more soft skills, which will in turn allow the graduates to “create their own job.” Shihadeh expressed pride in AUB’s partnership with BDD, which, according to him, will create many opportunities. 

Dr. Ayman Kayssi, Associate Dean and Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at FEA, considered that what will make FEA a power house for innovation is the fact that it has human capital, state-of-the-art facilities, and collaborations with partners such as BDD. 

Kayssi stated that the Department’s “vision is to graduate start-ups” and that this vision comes hand-in-hand with the University’s newly launched capital campaign, BOLDLY AUB, the Campaign to Lead, Innovate, and Serve. 

Kayssi explained that students at FEA can now choose to take the entrepreneurship track as part of their undergraduate studies. This track will enable them to participate in a hackathon during the winter session of their third year; take approved 3-credits electives that will introduce them to the theories of entrepreneurship; do their required internships at BDD; and develop a start-up as part of the Final Year Project. The best projects will have the opportunities of being executed once the students graduate. For a period of six-months, the projects will be supported by BDD, which will provide financial resources, office spaces, and mentorship from experts at the companies. 

According to Kayssi, embedding the innovation track in the curriculum will allow the initiative to “steadily grow from pilot to full scale, influencing the region and beyond.”

Mr. Mouhamad Rabah, a proud AUB alumnus  and General Manager of ZRE, developers of BDD, introduced BDD and shared its vision, which is to transform an overlooked neighborhood in the Down Town area of Beirut into a vibrant space where people work, live, and interact on daily basis. 

The current BDD community comprises 7 buildings that are home to 70 companies, including 38 start-ups, 21 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and 3 venture capital firms. Fifteen years down the road, BDD will have a 150,000 sqm of built area and will be home to 10,000 creative individuals. 

BDD offers its companies time-saving services, support in business set-ups, human resource services, support services such as laundry and car wash, Information Technology infrastructure, fitness classes, food courts, ATMs, and Banks. The services it offers are in an attempt to create a sustainable neighborhood with work-life balance and a large amount of creativity and community development. 

Mr. Habib Haddad, AUB alumnus and a successful entrepreneur, shared with the audience his success story that made him co-founder and CEO of Wamda, a platform of integrated programs aiming at accelerating entrepreneurship ecosystems throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Haddad also started Yamli, the leading Arabic transliteration and smart search engine. As a start-up activist and early-stage investor, Haddad advised the new comers to “hack” their ways through the start-ups. 
“We should be open not only about building things, but about hacking things too,” added Haddad. 

The ceremony was then followed by a vibrant panel, during which Priscilla Elora Sharuk, co-founder of Myki; Yusra Sabra, co-founder of Tiqany; Elie Nasr, co-founder of FOO; and Bassam Jalgha, co-founder of Band Industries shared their journey from being AUB students to becoming established entrepreneurs. 

Story Highlights
  • ​The faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA) at AUB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Beirut Digital District (BDD). FEA, keen on enhancing the entrepreneurship initiatives at AUB, has agreed on an action plan that would allow FEA students to explore entrepreneurship in partnership with BDD.

 
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