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Engineering Education in Saudi Arabia: Problems and Solutions

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Presentation on theme: "Engineering Education in Saudi Arabia: Problems and Solutions"— Presentation transcript:

1 Engineering Education in Saudi Arabia: Problems and Solutions
Muhammad Taher Abuelma’atti King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

2 Current Status More than ten universities and technical colleges offer engineering education. Over 80% of practicing engineers are expatriates. In the public sector 76% are Saudi engineers and in the private sector only 16%. Required is 3300 engineers/annum, available is 1675/annum only.

3 Problems: Retention, Attrition and Graduation Rates
Students retention is an indicator of quality and efficiency of institutions. High performer institutions are those that make student retention and success a high institutional priority. Engineering is known to be a discipline in which retention is a particular concern.

4 At One of the Best Universities in Saudi Arabia
In 1424/1425 the total number of engineering students who discontinued their studies for different reasons was : 1078 In 1424/1425 the total number of engineering graduates was: 658. In 1424/1425 the total number of students who discontinued their preparatory year studies was 731 = 41% of the total number of preparatory year students (was 1781).

5 Factors Contributing to Attrition
Poor qualifications on entry despite the high GPAs. Students are: Competent only to perform limited manipulations. Not used to questioning. Showing a performance to rote learning. Taking longer than necessary to work. Able to cope at the level of specific numerical routines but not at the level of problem solving.

6 Difficulties faced in studying in English; the language of engineering education in Saudi Arabia.
Lack of personal commitment to college education. Inadequate study skills; students may delay the initiation of an effective program of study.

7 Untrained teaching faculty.
Order of presentation of course material may complicate the understanding of the bits and pieces of the course. Course administration: few exams, infrequent or late feedback do not allow students to recover in time.

8 Solutions: A. Preparatory Year Foundation Course (1 Credit Hour)
The major goal of this course is to bridge the gap between the two cultures: the college and the school culture. Contents should address: making transition to college life, differences between college and school cultures, note taking, study skills techniques and time management.

9 Solutions: B. Freshman Orientation Courses
Common reasons cited by students who discontinues from any professional program in the first year are lack of information about: 1. What the degree program involves. 2. What opportunities are there for industrial training. 3.Typical employment destinations for graduates.

10 These problems are compounded by the fact that a specific department has almost no contact hours per week of formal sessions with its first year freshmen students; usually they study basic sciences.

11 Proposal for Freshman Orientation Courses
The major purpose of these courses is to give the students: 1. An overview of the discipline. 2. An idea of the type of career opportunities. 3. A chance to meet faculty and students in the program. This would help the students make informed decisions about a major and a career.

12 Freshman Orientation Engineering Courses
Courses Goals: To increase students’ understanding of engineering discipline. To promote students’ enthusiasm for pursuing a course of study. To provide orientation for the students. To develop the ability to apply fundamental engineering skills, including problem solving, communication, basic programming and other computer skills. To gain practical design experience.

13 First Semester Course (2 Credit Hours)
Course Description: 1. Introduction to Engineering Culture (15%): This part of the course provides the students with information about the college resources and opportunities, academic dishonesty, and the degree requirements.

14 2. Team Problem Solving (60%):
Students are divided into teams of maximum size four during the first week of class. After the sixth week they can be divided into new teams and again assigned to new team at twelfth week. After several weeks of experience working in teams, a professor from the Communication Department could be invited to lecture on group dynamics and working effectively in teams. The course should cover a variety of general problem solving methods.

15 3. Introduction to Social and Ethical Issues in Engineering (10%):
To make students aware of the social and ethical issues and to give them some practice. 4. Introduction to Major Areas and Major Problems in Each Area (15%): Areas are covered by faculty presentations. Students are required to hand in short summaries of each presentation.

16 Second Semester (2 Credit Hours)
This course should be structured around a combination of disciplines. It should include a review of follow-up procedures from the first semesters in addition to multidisciplinary projects. The projects must show the students how disciplines interact. The two courses must be current and attractive to students and address industry needs.

17 The two-course sequence must adopt a “Hands on “ and workshop delivery approach in addition to inviting speakers from industry, especially recent graduates. Excursions to industrial plants should be part of the course with students writing reports about their observations.

18 Thank You

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