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SABIC visit

Delegation meets with students, explores expanded partnership with UD

The University of Delaware English Language Institute (ELI) and SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation), one of the world’s largest petrochemicals manufacturers, partnered for the first time in 2007. In 2016, the company awarded the ELI a prestigious Foundation Year Program, one of only five across the United States.

Late this spring, a visiting delegation of SABIC representatives came together from around the world to further expand their collaboration with UD. Among the SABIC delegation were Hesham Al-Jarba, senior manager of educational programs; Ahmed Al-Blwoi, student relations manager of educational programs; Shelli Lee, manager, North America region; and Amir Koubaa, senior adviser.

During their visit, the delegation members met with the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, College of Engineering, English Language Institute and Office for International Students and Scholars, toured the Colburn chemical and biomolecular engineering laboratories and the mechanical engineering Makerspace and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University.

The new MOU will create a foundation for faculty exchange as well as additional opportunities for students, said Michael Vaughan, associate dean for academic affairs at the College of Engineering. “Through the visit, we were able to further discuss SABIC’s core research enterprise, understand what their strategic mission is in the U.S. and explore ways that we can help enhance that mission through partnership with them.”

The delegation also held a special reception for UD’s current Foundation Year students.

The program offers newly minted high school graduates from 10 to 18 months of intensive preparation for an undergraduate degree in engineering or business fields. Of thousands of Saudi applicants, only 150 students are chosen each year for the program and travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, China and Japan, as well as the United States. Here, they take prerequisite courses before beginning their degree at UD or another top university.

“Throughout the program, I polished my academic skills, improved my leadership and team working skills and even broadened my horizons,” said Ali Al Dawood, a freshman mechanical engineering student. “At the beginning of the program, I was the lowest-level English student compared to my SABIC peers. Yet, by the end of the program, I was named valedictorian of the ELI. To best describe it, I can’t imagine myself today without the Foundation Year experience.”

During the 2016-17 Academic Year, UD’s ELI was host to 31 Foundation Year scholars. Seven of those who have graduated from the program this year will begin an undergraduate degree in chemical, environmental and mechanical engineering at UD.

“This MOU is the culmination of 10 years of collaboration between SABIC and UD...It is a multi-layered relationship that has yielded much fruit. We look forward to what the next ten years will bring,” said Scott Stevens, director of the English Language Institute.

For more details on the UD and SABIC partnership, contact Dan Bottomley, associate director of partnerships and programs at the Institute for Global Studies, or MariaJosé Riera, program coordinator at the English Language Institute.

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