Classes start for first students at Masdar Institute of Science & Technology

masdar_institute_of_science_and_technologyMasdar Institute of Science and Technology, the world’s first graduate academic institution dedicated to the research of alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability, has commenced with classes  for the inaugural intake of graduate students.

Lectures began last week (Sept 7th)  for the 92 pioneering students who were selected from more than 1,200 applicants from 82 countries worldwide. The new students, who hail from as far afield as Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and the Middle East, representing 22 different nations, are part of Masdar Institute’s two-year Master’s program, which offers five multidisciplinary specialized areas geared towards the research and development of alternative energy and sustainability. The UAE has contributed the highest number of students, with 13% of the total, and almost 30% of the student body is women.

Masdar Institute was established as part of the Government of Abu Dhabi’s vision and commitment to a long-term, sustainable knowledge economy. The non-profit, private research-driven Institute has been developed in cooperation with one of the world’s most respected universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Masdar Institute, which will be the centerpiece of the multifaceted Masdar Initiative, launched by Mubadala Development Company, will feed Abu Dhabi and the region with highly talented individuals and research expertise, thereby enhancing economic development and diversification through human capital and technological innovation.

Dr. John Perkins, Provost of Masdar Institute, said:“Masdar Institute aims to become a world-class university and research institution that will create and shape a new generation of leaders and critical thinkers in science and technology. We are tasked with responding to one of the most important challenges facing our planet – the need to develop sustainable energy solutions that ensure economic growth and prosperity for all nations, without damaging the environment.”

Dr. Perkins added that today was a proud occasion, signifying an important milestone for Masdar Institute: “I am delighted with the quality and pedigree of the young minds gathered at Masdar Institute. Students and faculty alike are embarking on an exciting yet vital journey for Abu Dhabi, the Middle East and the entire world. By working together and employing collaborative research to progress technology, I am confident that seemingly insurmountable obstacles to tackling climate change while preserving economic growth can be overcome.”

World-class faculty of over 20 leading academics from 11 countries has been recruited from internationally renowned universities. MIT has assisted with the recruitment process, and has hosted faculty staff for a period of one year to instill standards of excellence in graduate education as well as to aid the development of joint research projects. Over the next five years the Institute is anticipated to grow year-on-year to a student body of at least 600 and a faculty of 100, and Doctoral-level degrees will be introduced by 2011.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, said:“Today marks an important step towards realizing the vision and strategy of Abu Dhabi’s leadership in positioning the Emirate as a knowledge hub built on its vast energy expertise. As indentified by the Government of Abu Dhabi, world-class education is undoubtedly a core pillar in developing a sustainable economy, and Masdar Institute is set to play an integral role in Abu Dhabi’s future growth.

“In meeting the ambitions and commitment of our own students to become the next generation of global energy leaders, Masdar Institute and Abu Dhabi offer an unprecedented opportunity for those who wish to tackle the defining challenge of our age. With the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency to be located at Masdar City as well, there could be no better place to study, research or develop a career in alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability,” Dr. Sultan added.
Masdar Institute is currently using interim lecture and laboratory facilities at the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi. The new premises at Masdar City will be handed over in phases during the first academic year, providing students with the unique prospect to live and learn within a true ‘living laboratory’ in the heart of the world’s first sustainable city. Importantly, the technology researched and developed by the Institute will be tested by Masdar City, resulting in each phase of the City’s development informing subsequent phases.

As a postgraduate institution, the admission standards to Masdar Institute are in accordance with world-class research-driven universities such as MIT. Admission is dependent on academic qualifications and English language proficiency as all lectures, laboratory sessions, and written or oral examinations at Masdar are conducted in English. Full financial scholarships have been awarded to all who met the very high entry standards – these scholarships include all tuition fees, housing and a cost of living allowance.

Dr. Marwan Khraisheh, Dean of Engineering, Masdar Institute, said: “Never before has this region welcomed students and faculty of such high caliber to study or teach in science or engineering at postgraduate level. The diverse backgrounds and wealth of talent choosing to study and teach in the inaugural academic year of Masdar Institute are testimony to the foresight and leadership shown in establishing a genuinely world-class research institution to tackle the world’s most pressing need. Our unique focus on the integration of technology, policy and systems, combined with the opportunity to test and deploy new technologies on a scale unrivaled elsewhere in the world will ensure Masdar Institute’s position at the cutting-edge of innovation and critical thinking, with consequences that reach far beyond Masdar, Abu Dhabi and the region.”

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Tarek is the founder and chief researcher at Youngberry, a youth research and marketing firm dedicated to the region. Tarek founded interactiveME.com and previously worked as Manager at Flip Media (Interactive Agency), Bayt.com (Job Site) and Consulting House Qatar (Consulting firm). He is researcher and writer on internet & disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth culture.