American University of Beirut

A pioneer in engineering and robotics – inside look at Ziad Chelala’s journey to success

​​​​The American University of Beirut (AUB) has always sought to be a globally distinctive, exemplary institution of higher education that trains ethical leaders for just, peaceful, resilient, and relevant societies. The Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) is a great example of that mission. MSFEA empowers individuals to forge their own meaningful life paths by addressing humanity's most difficult challenges via education and research of the highest caliber.  

It brings us great amounts of pride and joy to witness our own MSFEA alumni forging their own paths in the world and achieving impressive strides in their careers. With the Alumni Spotlight series, we want to draw attention to the successes of our students as we sit down with each of them to get a deeper insight on their journeys.   

Today's post honors Ziad Chelala, MSFEA's Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate. Ziad founded Spexal, together with his partner Khalil El Rai, a technology firm that conceives cutting-edge services and solutions for international clients and giants in different fields with state-of-the-art services and technologies. The proposed services include the creation of robotic systems and solutions as well as mobile and online applications. The development procedure includes prototype, iteration, testing, optimization, manufacturing, deployment, and maintenance. 

Spexal is now a global player in the robotics industry, serving clients in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East and North Africa. 

Robotics, according to Ziad, is shaping tomorrow's economies, societies, and industries, "robots have the potential to improve our lives and augment our capabilities." 

Ziad's time at MSFEA has allowed him to dive into the world of robotics and gain an in-depth knowledge to pursue such a successful career. When asked about the importance of robotics, Ziad explained, “what I would like to emphasize is that robots are mainly built to support and assist workers in their daily tasks. They work hand in hand with humans. They reduce risk of injuries in hazardous environments, lift heavy loads, operate in toxic areas, and complete repetitive tasks. These different aspects of robotics are contributing towards the advancements in various sectors, such as manufacturing, logistics, medical, agriculture, space exploration, and transportation. In short, it's a tool that augments our capabilities and reaches where humans can't."  

Launching a startup is not an easy feat. It requires effort, dedication, and time. Ziad elaborated on his experience in entrepreneurship, “It is nice to be able to wear many hats, especially if you are working for a startup. You are required to hold specialized skills and a deeper understanding of various departments in your business." 

As our conversation was drawing to a close, Ziad shared his advice and insight for young entrepreneurs and engineers. “Engineering branches are vast, each consisting of sub-branches, which in turn consist of specialization tracks, and the list goes on. What I always say to people looking for an engineering career is: know yourself; are you a generalist or a specialist?" 

“Always follow a 'T-shaped' career. The arm of the T would be where you scratch the surface of general and diversified topics. The stem of the T is where you specialize and build your expertise."  

We cannot begin to express how proud we are to see our alumni making good use of what AUB and MSFEA have offered them and forging a career that leaves an impact on the world. Thank you Ziad Chelala and we hope your future holds even more successful endeavors!

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