The LAU School of Engineering Organizes the First-Ever TLP VIP+ Industry-Academia Workshop
Innovation, professional networking, and job preparedness were the key objectives of the first pitching workshop for the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Tomorrow’s Leaders College to Work Pipeline Vertically Integrated Projects (TLP VIP+) . The workshop was organized by LAU School of Engineering (SOE), in partnership with the American University of Beirut (AUB), Georgia Tech University, and the American University in Cairo (AUC). On October 29, 2021, 46 LAU Tomorrow’s Leaders (TL) students got the opportunity to take the lead in pitching their innovative projects to the TLP Team Leaders and start-ups’ CEOs covering a large spectrum of areas ranging from medical, transportation, and agriculture, to robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the TLP workshop focused on increasing students’ employability, entrepreneurship skills, and innovation, and on bridging the gap between skills sought after by employers and skills taught at universities.
After just few months of hands-on learning modules and experiential learning courses, TL students acquired professional soft skills such as project management, teamwork, business, and entrepreneurship; and technical skills such as hands-on lab skills, scientific concepts with the opportunity to exchange knowledge across many boundaries, disciplines, and ranks. As a result, TL students coached by faculty, assisted by graduate students, and co-mentored by industry partners, were able to present their initial innovative projects to key professionals in multidisciplinary domains during the workshop. “The LAU administration knows how tight the conditions are, and we are doing everything we can to lessen the hardship on everyone […] There is no priority today more pressing for the university than building strategic alliances with industries within Lebanon and well beyond. Such alliances represent an essential infrastructure for R&D capacity building in pursuit of a knowledge economy where your ideas become fragments of imagination and find their way to reality. We want you to be entrepreneurs and we want your imagination to go wild,” said LAU President, Dr. Michel E. Mawad, addressing the students for the event inauguration. LAU-MEPI TLP Project Director and Dean of the School of Engineering Dr. Lina Karam explained how the TLP VIP+ project sparked the interest of many students across both campuses coming from different backgrounds and disciplines, and highlighted the high level of students’ commitment and perseverance to work on concise and comprehensive projects amid tremendous challenges they have been facing due to the pandemic and the compounding crisis hitting Lebanon. “It is wonderful to see the excitement of TL students and the many skills gained within a very short period of time through the MEPI-TLP VIP+ program,” said SOE Dean Dr. Lina Karam. “This speaks highly of the dedication of our TL students, faculty, and partners, and of the powerful synergy that is created within the MEPI-TLP VIP+ program. Such an impactful initiative would not have been possible without the generous support of the U.S. Department of State, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).” The opening remarks session was concluded by a welcome note delivered by AUB-MEPI TLP Project Director and Associate Dean of Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Dr. Riad Chedid, who congratulated LAU on the progress they have achieved in project implementation, and emphasized on the significant impact of the MEPI-TLP project during these difficult times, stressing that the MEPI-TLP project comes as a message of hope to support Lebanon’s industry, facilitate the transition of our graduates to the job market, and create a sustainable platform for enhancing collaboration between AUB, LAU, AUC, and local and regional industries. The TLP VIP+ Industry-Academia workshop was diversified and interactive. During the event, CEO/Founders/Co-Founders of 14 early-stage start-ups from Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, introduced their businesses to the students and explained the pathway that led them to success while opening doors to professional networking with students for potential hiring. Additionally, the start-ups’ founders attended the students’ presentations and were able to give them tips on ways to move forward with their projects.
During the event, the LAU-MEPI TLP VIP+ Project Team Leaders gave highlights on their projects: AI for Student-Major Fit presented by Dr. Manal Yunis; AI for Whole Exome Sequencing Analysis and Interpretation presented by Dr. André Mégarbané, Dr. Eliane Chouery and Dr. Cybel Mehawej; Early Diagnosis of Kidney Damage presented by Dr. Wissam Faour and Dr. Sola Bahous; Renewable Energy presented by Dr. Jawad El Khoury and Jad El Baba; Smart Irrigation presented by Dr. Jimmy Issa; Touch and Feel in Virtual and Augmented Reality presented by Dr. Evan Fakhoury and Dr. Ali Ammouri; Transportation Safety presented by Dr. John Khoury, Dr. Myriam Malhame, Dr. Jordan Srour and Dr. Elma Nassar; Vision, Intelligence and Robotics Applications (VIRA) presented by Dr. Joe Tekli; Startup Lab I and Startup Lab II presented by Dr. Zahy Ramadan and Dr. Abbas Tarhini. The event was wrapped up with a networking lunch during which students got engaged with start-ups’ founders and industry partners through an open and active dialogue.