Posted on November 05, 2017

Texas A&M University at Qatar recently hosted its first Global Showcase to highlight students’ international experiences and the impact these experiences have had on their lives and educational careers.

Texas A&M at Qatar’s mission in educating exemplary engineers champions providing students a holistic educational approach, and international experience is one factor in what sets Aggie engineers apart. Dr. Troy Bickham, assistant dean for academic affairs, said, “Engineering is increasingly a global profession and nowhere is this more apparent than in Qatar. Through its unique position, Texas A&M at Qatar strives to provide as many international experiences as possible for our students."

Students who participated in past programs outlined what they learned, how they grew as individuals and how the programs exposed them to engineering in a global context. In total, 129 students participated in 217 international experience opportunities in the 2016-2017 academic year. Faculty, staff and students learned about the global programs on offer at Texas A&M at Qatar during the event. The programs are varied. Some students, such as mechanical engineering junior Alaa Abdalla, spent a semester on the main campus in College Station. Others traveled all over the world, including Morocco and Costa Rica as part of service-learning and volunteerism-based trips, and Greece as part of a faculty-led study abroad opportunity. Incoming freshmen had the chance to bond together in Italy before beginning their college journeys.

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Of her semester abroad at Texas A&M’s main campus, Abdalla said, “The four months of my stay passed by very quickly. I learned that I enjoy living on my own. The sense of independence is a great one. America is such a huge country with so many cultures combined, but once you connect to the people you will realize how similar we are. Maybe we speak in a different language, but on the human level we are very similar.”

Mechanical engineering senior Saad Moazam, who launched a startup at the European Innovation Academy, said, “The European Innovation Academy program that I attended this summer in Italy was — and continues to be a truly inspirational experience. The amount of knowledge I gained and the number of valuable connections I made in the space of three weeks surpasses everything I have done for the past three years. I have always had a dream of starting up my own company, and the European Innovation Academy was the perfect stepping stone I needed in order for me to progress to a serious level. Italy is a beautiful country, and getting to have customer discovery sessions in Milan, expo presentations in Rome and product development in Turin were all invaluable experiences.”

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Students talking about their positive and even life-changing experiences to fellow classmates is the best recruitment, said Dr. Ryan McLawhon, executive director Student Affairs and Academic Services.

“The Global Showcase is an opportunity for students to communicate to the Texas A&M at Qatar community their international learning experiences gained from the last academic year,” McLawhon said. “Students, faculty and staff engaged with students who had significant international experiences, interacting with them about how these activities helped shape their futures as global, Aggie engineers.” Abdalla added, “I advise anyone who is not sure whether he or she should go to be courageous and do it. It might seem intimidating, but it is an opportunity that you might not get again. So make use of it while you still can. I would definitely do it again.”