WATERLOO, ON, (Thursday, January 11, 2012) - A group of engineering students from the University of Waterloo campus in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) made history when they started the Canadian portion of their studies at the main Waterloo campus this month.

The 12 students from Dubai are enrolled in undergraduate programs in chemical engineering and civil engineering, the first two programs offered at the UAE campus. The campus opened in September 2009 to extend the University of Waterloo’s highly acclaimed co-op education model internationally.

Nine of the students have been in Canada since September 2011 on co-op work terms in Toronto, Markham, Brampton, Kingston and Waterloo. The other three arrived from co-op jobs in the Middle East and South Asia.

“Enrolling in the UAE program gives us the benefit of gaining both international and North American work experience,” explained Basila Abdu, a third-year chemical engineering student from Kerala, India. Abdu worked with Toronto-based Celplast Metallized Products Ltd. for her fall 2011 co-op term. She did quality testing of metalized films used in packaging products such as potato chips.

Students enrolled at the Dubai campus spend their first two years studying in the UAE and complete their final two years of study in Canada, alternating classes and co-op work terms. Faculty from the Waterloo campus teach the Waterloo curriculum in the UAE.

“Having the first students from the Dubai campus in Canada marks a significant milestone in expanding the university’s international reputation,” said Leo Rothenburg, associate vice-president international and professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Waterloo. “The Dubai campus is an important hub for extending our world-renowned co-op program to the Middle East, South Asia, and beyond.”

A total of 139 students were enrolled at the Dubai campus in September 2011. In addition to chemical engineering and civil engineering, the Faculty of Mathematics is offering three programs in Dubai: financial analysis and risk management, information technology management, and mathematics English language for academic studies.

“Being on such a large campus, it's a new adventure every day,” commented third-year civil engineering student Ashaal Dabholkar. “Our class in Dubai was small and we could work with professors very closely. But being in a larger class lets us work with more people and hear different points of view. The experience has lived up to our expectations.”

The dean of engineering, Adel Sedra, noted that the Faculty has a strong track record of making history at the University.

“Waterloo Engineering was the founding faculty of the Waterloo campus 54 years ago and we continued the tradition as the founding faculty in Dubai,” said Sedra. “We extend a warm welcome to all the students from Dubai. We also extend our thanks to all the faculty and staff at the university who have helped make the Dubai campus a success.”

Image: David Brush and Basila Abdu.


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