First Emirati Students Selected for Stanford Fellowship

zkhan@masdar.ac.ae (Zarina Khan) | Mon Nov 26, 2018

Students’ Projects to Increase Campus Engagement and Become Agents of Change


Four young women studying in Khalifa University's BSc in Electrical Engineering program have become the first-ever group selected from the UAE for the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program at Stanford University in the US.

The global program run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school), empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design thinking. It encourages students to become agents of change at their schools, and work towards ensuring that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future and make a positive impact on the world.

The four – Hajer M. Almahri (2020), Maryam Abbas Sajwani (2019), Ruba Nasser (2019), Buthaina Alkhayat (2020) – have now completed their six-week online training program. The team, along with faculty mentor Dr. Nicholas Dimmitt, Associate Professor, Department of English, will now be invited to the Silicon Valley Meetup in California, US, where they will attend experiential workshops and exercises focused on topics including movement building, innovation spaces, design of learning experiences, and new models for change in higher education. The team’s visit will also include a day of activities and learning at the headquarters of Google (Alphabet) in March 2019.

Additionally, in Spring 2019, the team will attend as ‘special guests’ in the Eastern Hemisphere Meetup in Dubai, organized for teams from China, India and Far-East Asia.

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “The selection of our students by Stanford illustrates the relevance of Khalifa University’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and our faculty expertise in skill-building. Our students need to be encouraged to come up with such practical, need-based projects that are useful, and concepts that can be implemented by the university. We believe our students will bring more honor to our university through such innovative projects that they will co-create with stakeholders in the coming months, ready for presentation at Stanford and elsewhere in the world.”

The four Khalifa University students will now begin to plan and activate their projects that are the outcome of their training.

Ruba Nasser and Buthaina Alkhayat are working together on two projects. Their LabAID project is a resource-design around laboratories that helps better understand what the lab sessions talk about and includes a demonstration of experiments.

Nasser said: “I plan to complete my project to collaborate with one of the lab instructors who taught me a lab that I already took and create the videos, and observe the difference on how well the students are grasping the lab experiments.”

The ‘Workshops on emotional intelligence’ project aims to help students build self-confidence and raise self-expectations as well as focus on achieving specific goals despite daily distractions.

Alkhayat said: “Right now, Student Services hosts various workshops to encourage students to practice introspection and reflection, which are fundamental aspects of emotional intelligence. Also, a one-credit course is also being developed to focus on the fundamental skills university students need, introducing habits of mind and provides real life scenarios for students to approach. A student led group will be creating an online portal that encourages registration for this course and provides feedback.”

The project by Maryam Abbas Sajwani focuses on ‘Facilitating students' engagement through communication systems’, and aims to help students distinguish events that are happening on-campus, allowing them to be more interactive with specific interests.

Sajwani said: “My next step to make this project a reality is to create a web-based preliminary application, incorporate possible events and test its functionality. I wish to work on it in small sections, then collate all to make a fully furnished app design.”

Earlier this month Sajwani was also selected for the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program for the Middle East and North Africa, where she will receive full funding for two academic years to achieve a Master’s degree at a US university. Sponsored by the US Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program designed to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchange.

Hajer Almahri’s project, ‘Freshman Year Experience’ (FYE) program or ‘Freshmen Success Program’, is designed to facilitate transition from high school to university, while helping students to interact with one another socially.

Almahri’s said: “The FYE program will cover two main aspects, educational and social. For the educational aspect, it will consist of a three-credit course that will introduce the students to different majors in the university. For the social aspect, it will make sure students remain engaged on-campus by attending events and workshops, and off-campus by attending exhibitions and fieldtrips.”

Throughout the year, the four UIF students will have many opportunities to learn from one another, Stanford mentors, and leaders in academia and industry, while presenting their work and facilitating workshops at events and conferences around the world.

Clarence Michael
News Writer
7 November 2018