Dr. Mark H. Weichold, Dean and CEO, Texas A&M University, Qatar

25 Feb 09:13 AM

Sector : Education Country : Qatar

The Next Generation of Researchers

 

Texas A&M University at Qatar began in 2003 with 29 students. Today, the Qatar campus has graduated more than 500 engineers, of which over 200 are Qatari. Heavily focused on research, Texas A&M Qatar is investigating environmental issues, water treatment technologies, petroleum reservoir studies, and much more to forward Qatar's National Vision. B'Here met with Dr. Mark H. Weichold, Dean and CEO of Texas A&M University at Qatar, to discuss a decade in Qatar, research, and Aggie core values.
 
Weichold became dean and CEO in 2007. Since then, the campus has produced more than 500 graduates. Enrollment has grown to more than 550 students, including 40 graduate students enrolled in two master’s degree programs. The faculty has increased to 81 and the research enterprise has grown to include 140 active projects. 

 

In September 2013, Texas A&M at Qatar celebrated a decade in Education City. What were the highlights of the past decade and what are your aspirations for the next 10 years? 

We have much to be proud of during our first decade here. We’ve graduated more than 500 Aggie engineers — 200 of them Qatari. We have an active research program with more than $160 million in research funding that is helping build a nation. We are nurturing master’s graduates that will solve some of the region’s biggest challenges of growth and progress. With industry and academia partners, we are creating new knowledge that will spur development. We are lighting the spark of discovery in children that will encourage and enable them to help Qatar accomplish its National Vision (QNV2030). 

In the next 10 years, we want to expand our graduate program in collaboration with Qatar Foundation and Hamad bin Khalifa University. We want to grow our research program, nurturing existing collaborations with industry partners and expanding those partnerships to new industry colleagues. We are bringing expertise to Qatar and also exporting knowledge created here. And we are working towards a more focused engagement of community partners in STEM activities to help build the human capital necessary to realize QNV2030.

Under Texas A&M at Qatar’s Strategic Plan 2010-2015, by 2015 50 percent of all students will be engaged in research, 40 students will have graduated with a master’s degree and 75 percent of faculty would be engaged in research and scholarly activities. How close are you to achieving these goals by 2015?

Undergraduate research is an important element of a well-rounded education and we are working hard to engage students in research. I think we’re going to reach 40 students graduating with master’s degrees, or at least be very close, and we’re also going to see 75 percent of our faculty engaged in research. 

Texas A&M at Qatar offers degrees in four academic programs. Are there plans to offer more and also to expand graduate studies?

We’re not planning to offer any more degree programs other than engineering, although we would like to expand our graduate program to include the Ph.D.

Texas A&M at Qatar and the U.S. National Science Foundation are integrating capabilities to advance natural gas monetization research in the USA and Qatar, with a world-class research center to be opened in Doha. Could you tell us more about these plans and the research to be undertaken?

NSF sponsored a workshop that highlighted Qatar’s success in natural gas utilization and the lessons to be learned, while boosting the U.S. natural gas role in the fuels and energy market. The workshop was led by our faculty in the multidisciplinary Gas and Fuels Research Center, which integrates Texas A&M’s research and resources to support shale gas and natural gas exploration, production and monetization activities. We have that expertise here in Qatar, so we are in a great position to lead this initiative and export this vital knowledge. 

“Aggie” defines Texas A&M students, graduates and faculty. How have Aggie core values been adopted in Qatar?

We’ve instilled the core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service here in Qatar. Our students hold to these values and embody them. The Aggie Code of Honor, “An Aggie doesn’t lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do,” is an ideal our students carry with them while in school and in their careers. Texas A&M doesn’t simply develop engineers. It develops leaders.

How is Texas A&M at Qatar contributing to Qatarization and QNV2030? 

More than half of our undergraduate students are Qatari nationals. Our engineering graduates are leaders of character who will guide Qatar’s development and achieve goals of both local and global significance. Our graduates have been in the workforce for several years and are taking positions of increasing responsibility in their careers, driving human, social and economic development. 

Our research is also contributing new knowledge. We are producing the next generation of researchers here in Qatar, whether those are nationals or internationals, and that’s going to be critical for a knowledge-based economy.  

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