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Seminar Research Project About King Abdullah University Research Paper

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Updated: May 17th, 2022

Abstract

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is a global research university offering graduate studies in life and physical sciences, engineering sciences, and computer sciences. This work is a research paper for a seminar in project management about King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). It gives a brief introduction about KAUST, reason for its establishment by the Saudi Arabia’s government, time taken to build the university, its location, vision, and mission of the university and further information about the university.

Introduction

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is a global research university offering graduate studies in life and physical sciences, engineering sciences and computer sciences. An independent board of trustees, which makes it distinct from the other universities, governs the university (KAUST, 2012). KAUST is a result-oriented international university, which is open to all genders, cultures, and nationalities around the globe. KAUST is organized into research institutes that include institute of resources, energy and environment, institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering, institute of Material science and engineering, and institute of Applied Mathematics and Computer Sciences. It offers scholarships for students with outstanding performance in sciences and technical subjects from across the world. The scholarships offered for students are KAUST Discovery Scholarships and King Abdullah Scholarships. In addition, KAUST offers collaborative educational programs with other universities. KAUST forms links with industries through collaborative research and development projects in the innovative centre and Research Park. Moreover, it is an environmentally friendly university with sustainable goals of conservation of energy, water, and materials. This paper gives a detailed account on the university on its location, reason for its establishment by the Saudi Arabia’s government, duration taken to build it, cost of building the university, its vision and mission, and further information.

Why the Saudi Arabia Government established KAUST

KAUST was established by King Abdullah, as part of his vision for the megacity, announced in 2005. The university was part of the mega city’s education sector that was to make Saudi Arabia a competitive county in technology across the globe. The education sector was planned to have a global university consisting of two research and development centers that could serve eighteen thousand students, and seven thousand and five hundred staff members. KAUST was to be the cradle for knowledge in research and development across the world. Through research, it was to cover four principal areas, viz. energy and environment, biosciences, and Engineering, material science and engineering, and applied Mathematics and Computer sciences. The aim of the technical subjects was to solve technological problems affecting the country and the world at large. The one billion dollars grant by the king was to be awarded annually to successful applicants from selected institutions, which would aid in establishing interdisciplinary centers, funding support staff, and supporting undergraduate students from across the globe. King Abdullah approved the building of the university to create social, cultural, and religious and academic freedom to all genders and nationalities, which would faster socioeconomic development.

Location of King Abdullah University

KAUST is situated in a strategic environment in the Red sea at Thuwal, which give it a spectacular view and a pleasant study environment. It is approximately 50 miles north of Jeddah town and an hour north of Mecca (KAUST, 2012). The campus includes a marine sanctuary and research facility that is in a distinct coral reef environment. The location in the sea environment creates an opportunity for research in marine technology. The campus covers an area of 3602 hectares inclusive of the surrounding environment that contains business area, residential area for the surrounding neighbors, social and recreational facilities, and research laboratories. The social and recreational area is made up of parks, playing fields, schools for children, yacht club, and a dock for adults.

Cost for building KAUST

The cost for building the university was enumerated through the ten billion dollars donation by King Abdullah (Lindsey, 2011, p. 3). These costs were incurred in the project, procuring the building materials, setting up of the facilities, labor costs, and miscellaneous costs. The LJA Engineering was involved in the construction of the project.

Time taken to complete the project

The project was scheduled to take three years (Minutillo, 2010, p. 5). The first was completed the first phase in 2009, which included the research park, marine and oceanic research centre The designers, the foremen, engineers and the construction workers worked simultaneously due to the short period scheduled to complete the project. The project had to been environmentally friendly for the award of Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED) certification, which was awarded in September 2009. The second phase was the expansion of the Science and Technology research square around the campus.

The vision of the university

The Vision of King Abdullah University is, “King Abdullah University of Science and Technology will be a globally renowned graduate research university that makes significant contributions to scientific and technological advancement, and it will play a crucial role in the development of Saudi Arabia and the world” (KAUST, 2012). Through the vision of the university, KAUCT believes it can achieve several things by the year 2012. At first, the University believes be among the top ten leading countries in research and technology by having numerous scientific discoveries and technological innovations, a high average citation index among the university faculty and making professional journal publications in a journal like Science and Nature.

KAUST believes to have outstanding global standards in research and academic activities. The research is made to inspire most people in the world and make KAUST a leading university in research and innovation. The university believes to produce exceptional training to its graduates to become leaders in sectors of education and business. KAUST can contribute significantly to the county’s growth of gross domestic product (G.D.P) through its research and commercial activities that will create jobs, lead to the emergence of new industries and socio-cooperate responsibility. This will lead to expansion and strengthening of the country’s economy hence the growth of GDP per capital. KAUST believe it can support and sustain itself through the income generation in its research and innovation activities, which can cater for its running costs and finance requirements.

Strategies to succeed

KAUST employs various strategies towards its success as an international university which involve collaboration and partnerships with others institutions, governments and industries. The strategies are based on research, students’ scholarships, industry collaboration, and faculty rewards. The research strategy involves research partnerships that can either be global or unique ones. The Global Research partnership creates a global network for innovation, research, and development aimed at diversifying KAUST’s research. KAUST has a global network with other international universities that include The Penn State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Tokyo, University of Oxford, and University of Cambridge amongst others. The Global Research Network has six foundational awardees, which include KAUST centre for research Education as one of them. The GRP recognizes KAUST for outstanding in Organic to inorganic hybrid nanomaterials as new platforms for carbon (IV) Oxide capture and sequestration, desalination of water and production of gas and oil, and solar technology. KAUST’s remarkable partnerships involve collaboration with other organizations in doings its research activities. The research activities include Marine Genomic Research, Water and solar Research, Solar energy and Mathematical modeling amongst others. The partnerships are aimed at technology transfer at the same time diversifying KAUST’s research and development activities. The students’ scholarship strategy involves KAUST discovery scholarships awarded to outstanding students in Sciences, Engineering and Technology based subjects. The King Abdullah Scholars awarded for outstanding performance for Bachelor’s degree.

The third strategy is the industrial collaboration that involves the research park and innovation center. The research park is involved carrying out the industrial research in collaboration with the university. The innovation centre creates avenues for new technologies, new product development, and marketing which help to sustain KUST’S educational forums. Collaboration with private knowledge based organizations that include GE and IBM help in exchange of knowledge and technology transfer. The fourth strategy is the faculty strategy for the award of the best performing students and lecturers. The students are awarded the Academic Excellence Alliance awards while the faculty heads receive King Abdullah Professor’s award. The awards are aimed at creating motivation and making the university merit oriented.

Scholarships

KAUST provides scholarships, which are divided into KAUST Discovery Scholars for the undergraduate students and KAUST scholars for postgraduates (KAUST, 2012). KAUST discovery scholarship is awarded to best students from around the world in Sciences, Engineering and technology. The selection criterion for KAUST discovery programs ensures transparency, fairness, and consistency. The candidates are selected based on academic achievement, commitment to KAUST goals and demonstration of leadership abilities. The candidates should show involvement in co curricular activities and show interest in pursuing further education at KAUST upon graduation. KAUST representatives or respective faculties interview the successful applicants for consideration for admission. The scholarship go with benefits of full tuition fee to complete degree at the current institution, remuneration for monthly living, textbook and laptop allowance, transport cost allowance and access to KAUST career guidance and online community.

KAUST scholars sponsorship is awarded to successful candidates upon competition of their under graduate degree programs. The candidates are warded full scholarship for a master’s degree program at the main campus in Saudi Arabia that includes tuition fee, health allowance, house allowance and transport allowance. In addition, the candidates are offered thirty thousand dollars remuneration and one round air ticket to their home country. The successful candidates must have an official transcript for their bachelor’s degree programs in English language. They must have attained “overall aggregate points of 3.3 out of 4 or its equivalent in other international grading systems and have attained a minimum TOEFEL score of 79 on Internet Based Test (IBT) or 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)” (KAUST, 2012). The candidates must demonstrate interest in research and/or leadership abilities, willingness to study at KAUST in Saudi Arabia, and ability to travel outside his/her home country to attend KAUST’s programs.

Further information

KAUST’s Project is the largest LEED project in the world. The LEED certification is reflected in the university’s sustainable goals in making the university model of innovation, conserving energy, and promoting health and environmental stewardship. The use of environmentally friendly energy resources and methods, which are resource preservatives, is observed in the university through its cooling systems, transport methods, and design of the buildings. The cooling systems utilize unique solar towers that aids in conserving energy. The transport methods are aimed at reducing carbon footprint and maintain the environment green. Moreover, the university’s buildings are designed to use renewable sources of energy that include the solar electric, solar thermal, thermal recovery and chilled beams.

KAUST operates within the context of Saudi Arabia’s government though it is an international university. This influences the realization of its vision, mission, and core values. Its historical background shapes KAUST, surrounding environment, culture, and relationships with all its stakeholders, which are factors, considered in its (SWOT) and PESTEL analysis.

SWOT analysis

The analysis of KAUST strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is show in figure 1.below:

Table 1: SWOT analysis

Strength Weaknesses
1.Diversified interdisciplinary academic programs
2.Support from the government
3.Improved students and stake holders welfare
4.An enabling study environment
5.Intergration of ICT in the university operations
6.Governed by an independent body of trustee
7.Establishing global and special partnerships with other institutions of higher learning and knowledge based organization
10. Strategic location in a noise-free environment, good study environment and marine spectacular marine sanctuary
11. Fair and consistent reward system for scholarships
12. Superior laboratory facilities and Adequate sport and recreational facilities
13.LEED certification
14. Existence of academic quality assurance policy, and systems
  1. Weak marketing strategies of its programs
  2. Socio-cultural barriers
  3. Rigid and bureaucratic administrative procedures
  4. Challenge to create discipline culture among the staff and students
  5. Lack of open door policy on student leadership
Opportunities Threats
  1. High demand for new courses
  2. ICT growth and its application n teaching and research
  3. Strategic global partnerships with international institutions and knowledge based bodies such as IBM
  4. Scholarship funds for students
  5. Strategic partnership with industries and private sector
  6. Support by the government
  7. Increased investment in research and development activities by the university
  8. Linkages with reputable private and public sector organizations
  9. Staff and student exchange programs internationally.
  10. Increased demand for KAUST’s products and services.
  11. Rising demand for short courses and programs that are technologically and business oriented.
1.Unstable economic and political environment
2.Rapid changes in technology
3.Affordable and competitive degree programs in other universities
4. Prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other epidemics
5.Brain drain

PESTEL analysis

An independent body of trustees that make it unique from the other universities governs KAUST. Its policies are premised on the focus of enhancing global innovation, research, and development activities. To become a global institution, policies are set to use English, as an official language of communication and teaching, and to offer education to all genders and nationalities, based on their merit. This ensures that the university is merit based and eliminates social segregation. KAUST observes policies on copyright strictly. These are provided in the Saudi Arabia’s legislation of Royal Decree No. M/41, 30 August 2003 (KAUST, 2012). Moreover, Saudi Arabia is also a member of the Berne convection where the copyright laws were endorsed. In addition, Saudi Arabia is a member of The World Trade Organization’s trade-related aspect of intellectual property rights (TRIPS), and the University Copyright convection, which makes KAUST adherence to copyright policies to be strict. The copyright laws ensure that KUCST’s work is protected in relation to the convention laws (KAUST, 2012). The policies make KAUST’s education programs be of high quality, demand driven, gender sensitive, technologically informed, research supported, well governed and protected, and globally marketable.

Establishment of KAUST was profoundly influenced by political factors. Its success is attributed to substantial support by Saudi Arabia’s government through King Abdullah endorsement of $10 billion dollars (Lindsey, 2011, p. 3). King Abdullah affirmed that, the institution would provide education to all genders and nationalities, which are the basis of its socio-economic development. The government invests in innovation, research, and development through global and private partnership of the institution with other global institutions and knowledge based organizations. On the other hand, KAUST is influenced by political factors in its enrolment of students from other nationalities. Factors of political instability and harassment of other nationalities create fear to scholars, which in turn affect students’ enrolment from other institution.

KAUST’s collaboration with the private sector and industries, in commercialization of its innovation, research, and development activities, leads to growth of GDP per capita of the country. The institution finances itself sustainably through its diversified research activities.

The social factors affect KAUST‘s goal of creating unimpeachable reputation around the globe. Issues of religion and culture affect the relationship amongst the stakeholders. Consequently, criminal tendencies, drug abuse, and other forms of social evils affect the KUST’s population that is dominated by the youths. The institution faces challenge to develop and execute intervention mechanisms such as counseling, mentorship, and religious guidance.

The importance of technology in information and communication for socio-economic development is one of the key areas of emphasis in KAUST. The institution has super computing network of super computer running at a petaflop and 10Gbps connection to the internet that facilitates information exchange. In addition, it has extensively advanced in solar technology, marine technology, and catalysis research that provide incubation environment for its scholars.

The environment suffers adverse effect of global warming and climate change. Therefore, KAUST embraces green technologies through its sustainable goals that are geared to authentic stewardship of the environment. It is the largest LEED certified institution in the world that promotes environmental conservation using unique cooling towers, alternative methods of transportation to reduce overall carbon footprint and use of renewable energy and conservation. As a state cooperation, KAUST complies with legal requirements in running of the institution.

In conclusion, the overall success of the university can be attributed to quality management through an independent body of trustees, which leads to reduced conflicts in management. KAUST was constructed in a relatively short period of three due to availability of capital and proper management. It is strategically located in a favorable environment that contributes to cogent research avenue in the marine coast. The university recognizes the role gender equality through the provision of education to all genders. Moreover, KAUST can be said to adhere to the slogan of being global and going green, by offering global interdisciplinary research and ensuring environmental conservation, through LEED certification. From the SWOT analysis, it can be deduced that the university has so far succeeded towards achievement of its goals as the strengths and opportunities outweigh the weaknesses and threats respectively.

References

KAUST. (2012). Through Inspiration Discovery: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Web.

Lindsey, U. (2011). Saudi Arabia’s $10-Billion Experiment Is Ready for Results. Chronicle of Higher Education, 57(40) , 3-9.

Minutillo, J. (2010). KAUST. Architectural Record,198(11) , 5-7.

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