SHARJAH — Innovation and entrepreneurship took cente rstage at a special event held at American University of Sharjah (AUS) on Tuesday. The university played host to the Third Annual Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Education, a joint initiative developed by the UAE Ministry of Education and the Stanford Center for Professional Development. The initiative is a three-year joint program between the Ministry of Education and Stanford University to train three cohorts of UAE-based university professors and educators on Stanford’s I&E pedagogy and to facilitate the creation of an I&E ecosystem in the United Arab Emirates.
During his opening remarks, Dr. Mohammed Al-Mualla, Undersecretary for Academic Affairs of Higher Education, spoke about how topical the symposium was as it coincided with the UAE Innovation Month, a month-long celebration of innovation held in the seven emirates. He said: “The UAE Innovation month is one of the largest innovation initiatives in the world and is a consolidated effort by the government, private sectors, and individuals to help to create a widespread culture of innovation in the UAE and strengthen its position as a global hub for innovation.”
Dr. Björn Kjerfve, AUS Chancellor, briefed the delegates about the plans to transform AUS into a comprehensive research university over the next five years as well as the construction of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park adjacent to the university campus. He said:“It’s where academia and industry will come together in collaborative ventures, where our faculty’s research expertise will be harnessed, and where our graduates will be encouraged to hone their entrepreneurial skills. And this is why the UAE-Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program is now more important than ever to AUS – to our faculty and especially to our students, the UAE’s future industry and business leaders.”
An overview of the UAE-Stanford initiative was given by Paul Marca, Associate Vice Provost, Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning at Stanford.
The keynote presentations by Stanford professors included “Key Trends in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education,” by Dr. Tom Byers, Professor of Management Science and Engineering; “Strategies for Impacting Students and Their Careers,” by Dr. Sheri Sheppard, Professor of Mechanical Engineering; and “Why Investors Care,” by Trevor Loy, Lecturer of Management Science and Engineering and Managing Partner and Founder of Flywheel Ventures.
The event had two panel discussions. The first was moderated by Dr. Kai Bruns, Assistant Professor of Political Science, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, on “UAE Students, I&E – What I Learned and How,” and the second was moderated by Umbreen Shaikh, Zayed University, on “UAE Faculty, Years 1 and 2 Accomplishments and Lessons Learned.”
Dr. Salwa Mamoun Beheiry, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at AUS, recently selected as the Program Ambassador for the initiative to act as liaison between the Program Ambassadors Council and the Ministry of Education (MOE), played an instrumental role in helping organize the symposium at AUS. — SG