In January, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) hosted the annual KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP) Convocation. This three-day event brings together the KGSP community with KAUST faculty and leadership, to allow students to learn more about the university’s latest innovations in research and development, to provide a wide-range of developmental and educational training sessions, and to support students’ meaningful interactions with the research and faculty of their future areas of KAUST graduate study. The 2018 Convocation was the Scholarship’s largest to date, welcoming over 500 participants to Phoenix, Arizona from January 12th – 15th for a weekend of engaging and dynamic sessions focused around the theme, A World of Possibilities.
Dr. Najah Ashry, Vice President of Saudi Affairs, opened the Event with a rousing speech that both celebrated the accomplishments of the previous year, as well encouraged a growth mindset of continuous improvement. Students were inspired in hearing about the most recent group of KGSP alumni to have joined graduate programs at KAUST this past Fall, and who are already make their mark on the university’s academic community.
Following Dr. Ashry’s welcome was the keynote by special guest Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University (ASU). President Crow shared how his own passion for innovation has guided the transformation of ASU into an institution that combines the highest levels of academic excellence, inclusiveness, and societal impact, motivating students to affect meaningful change through their own hard work and determination. President Crow’s speech embodied a commitment to building a better tomorrow that is deeply shared by KAUST’s own mission, and set the stage for a truly memorable event.
Dr. Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University (ASU)
Dr. Carlos Santamarina, Field Of Study presentation on Earth Science & Engineering
Intellectual Space in Biology.” (Left to Right): Dr. James Calvin, Dr. Charlotte Hauser, Dr. Samir Hamdan and Dr. Takashi Gojobori
Duaa Taskhandi, a senior at Boston University, meets with Dr. Gilles Lubineau
Similarly, student involvement was crucial to the success of the Event: A student-led Steering Committee identified new sessions to add to the Agenda, recruited student presenters, and developed extensive content. Highlights included the dynamic Enrichment Fair, during which students presented posters, booths, and videos about their previous internship and professional development experiences to guide their peers in identifying and participating in such opportunities in the future. This was augmented by student-led interactive sessions on interview and networking skills, resume-writing, and perfecting one’s elevator speech. Other popular student-led sessions included Ted Talk-styled presentations on “Expecting the Unexpected” and “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” as well as a College Fair, at which current freshmen hosted booths presenting their home universities to Foundation year students, who are currently applying to these institutions.
Students Ghadah Al Shalan, Abdulellah Abualshour, and Basem Eraqi collaborate in the Design Challenge: A new addition to this year’s agenda, students worked in teams to brainstorm, design, and create an innovation prototype for a fictional research facility.
Outstanding Student Presenter Award: Abdulellah Abualshour (senior, Rutgers University) Noorah Al Faddagh (sophomore, University of California, Irvine), and Salman Alahmadi (junior, University of California, Berkeley)
New Student Recognition Award: Olla Almajed (Foundation Year, Boston University) and Hasan Mansour (Foundation Year, University of California, Berkeley)
Student Research Poster Award, 1st Place: Redha Al Ibrahim (Senior, University of Rochester)
Faisal Karim, a senior at North Carolina State University, receives recognition from KGSP Director Mr. Saham Alhusseini and Vice President for Saudi Affairs Dr. Najah Ashry
Over 500 KGSP students, faculty, and staff attended the 2018 Convocation.