Dr. Ilker Baybars, Dean, CMU

24 Feb 05:06 AM

Sector : Education Country : Qatar

A decade of success

 
Ranked one of the top universities globally, Carnegie Mellon University was founded in Pittsburgh in the United States. In 2004, Carnegie Mellon established a campus in Education City. B'Here met with Dr Baybars to discuss CMU-Q's decade in Qatar, research, student enrollment and hosting a Nobel Laureate in Economics.
 
Dr. Ilker Baybars joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon in 1978. He is the Dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) and the Deputy Dean Emeritus; George L. Bach Chair; as well as Professor of Operations Management at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. 

 

In March 2014, CMU-Q celebrated a decade in Qatar. How has CMU-Q changed since 2004, and what are your aspirations for the next decade?

CMU-Q has grown tremendously. When the university opened, we offered two programs to 41 students. Today, we offer five of Carnegie Mellon’s top undergraduate degree programs—biological sciences, business administration, computational biology, computer science and information systems—to 400 students from Qatar and more than 40 other countries. To date, 378 young men and women have graduated and they are now pursuing graduate degrees or working at some of the world’s top companies. 

As we continue our partnership into the next decade, we are building upon our high caliber of students and faculty, and striving to increase our Qatari enrollment beyond our current level of almost 40 percent. We also believe future research at CMU-Q will make important contributions to Qatar’s development, especially in the areas of cyber security and “smart cities.” 

How have CMU-Q graduates aided the Qatari economy and the aims of the National Vision 2030 (NV 2030) over the past decade, and in the decade to come?

When we look at employment data of CMU-Q graduates, we are pleased to see that within one year of graduation, every student who desires it has found work or is studying at the graduate level. Our alumni are recruited by both regional and international organizations, but the vast majority find work here in Qatar, where they are making tremendous contributions to the NV 2030. To give just a few examples, CMU-Q graduates are leading important projects at Hamad International Airport, Qatar Petroleum, Sidra Medical and Research Center, and the recently announced National Museum of Qatar.

In April 2014, CMU-Q co-hosted the fourth annual Undergraduate Conference in Information Systems (UCIS) alongside Carnegie Mellon University and the Qatar Association for Information Systems (AIS) chapter. The conference was established in Qatar, why did in take place in the USA this year?

We are very pleased with the growth of UCIS, which brings the best and brightest students together to showcase their research and get feedback from renowned faculty. The first conference was organized and run by the Information Systems program in Qatar together with the AIS students’ chapter. We then reached out to regional universities for the following two years, and expanded this year to the USA. By organizing the conference in Pittsburgh we were able to nurture the exchange between the main campus and the Qatar campus, to enhance the visibility of the Qatar campus internationally, and to expose our students to another level of competition.

CMU-Q is an advocate of interactive technology to improve teaching. Can you tell us more about research into this field and application in schools and universities?

Technology platforms are creating unprecedented access to new educational opportunities, and CMU-Q is not only an advocate of using interactive technology to improve teaching, but also in developing the right standards and methods of delivery to ensure students are getting the most from these platforms. In fact, Carnegie Mellon’s Simon Initiative, launched in Pittsburgh last year, will improve technology-aided learning for Carnegie Mellon students and millions of learners around the world. Here in Qatar, Dr. Zeinab Ibrahim, associate professor of Arabic, and a multi-disciplinary team from across campus, have developed a technology-rich way to teach Modern Standard Arabic to children at Qatar Academy. The results have been promising, and we hope to integrate the technology into other local schools in the future.

Earlier this year, renowned economist Finn Kydland, a Nobel laureate, came to deliver a course at CMU-Q. How were his courses received on campus?

In recent years, the Qatar campus has succeeded in attracting more and more senior faculty members from the Pittsburgh campus to Doha for at least a period of time. This year, Dr. Kydland taught an undergraduate course in real business cycles and spent time working with our faculty as well. As the first undergraduate class Dr. Kydland has taught in a decade, our students were incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity. This is just one example, and we will certainly continue this kind of offering in the future.

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