CAIRO: The School of Sciences and Engineering (SSE) at The American University in Cairo (AUC) has admitted 19 students to its inaugural class of PhD candidates, drawing students from across the region to pursue advanced research in areas essential to the quality of life in the region, and worldwide.
The PhD program offers degrees in applied sciences with specializations in nanotechnology, biotechnology and computer science; and in engineering with specializations in mechanical, construction, electronics and environmental engineering. The curriculum is designed to take an interdisciplinary approach to the examination and resolution of issues of fundamental scientific importance, from the development of molecules that protect the body against hepatitis C, to the development of wastewater technologies in rural Egypt. The program affords students opportunities for entrepreneurial scientific research in AUC’s modern and fully appointed laboratories.
The PhD program in applied sciences and engineering, primarily funded by AUC alumnus and businessman Yousef Jameel, is the first doctoral program offered by the 90-year old institution. According to Medhat Haroun, SSE dean, there are several factors that prompted the introduction of the PhD program, including the strength of existing SSE master’s programs and the recent introduction of innovative graduate programs in biotechnology, nanotechnology and food chemistry, as well as the academic excellence of AUC professors and researchers, and the accessibility of the school’s advanced experimental and computational facilities.
According to Haroun, surveys conducted by the university showed that there is strong interest from well-qualified students to pursue PhD degrees at AUC.
“In fact, there is a real shortage in the number of highly qualified scientists at the doctoral level in such fields such as biotechnology, bioinformatics, nanotechnology, information technology and cutting- edge engineering applications.
“AUC has opportunities to build human capacity in these disciplines and to address the shortage in highly qualified faculty members in the region.”
Reem Al Olaby, who obtained her master’s degree from AUC, is now a biotechnology student in the PhD program. “During my study at AUC I have witnessed how qualified and helpful the professors were, how I acquired new skills, and how it was an eye opening experience on many aspects of life,” said Al Olaby who is working to develop a way for the body to fight hepatitis C, a virus that infects around 3.3 percent of the worldwide population.
Rami Al Gawly, who obtained both his bachelor and master’s degrees from AUC, is pursuing doctoral studies in computer science. “Despite the competition from other institutions in Egypt and the Middle East, AUC has the caliber and experience required to give me the PhD experience that I look for,” Al Gawly said.
According to Amr Shaarawi, associate dean for graduate studies and research, students selected for the program demonstrated excellence in academic background, research experience and interdisciplinary aptitude.
“The PhD program accepts only full time students, which ensures complete dedication to the research required for the completion of the dissertation,” Shaarawi explained.