KAUST launches first virtual lab for distance learning

The virtual lab trains users in end-to-end device fabrication sequence using well-tested process protocols. Each training session is followed by a Q&A session.
Updated 29 April 2019
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KAUST launches first virtual lab for distance learning

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched its first virtual lab to serve as an online platform for distance learning on semiconductor fabrication.

The vFabLab, short for Virtual Fabrication Lab, is an online-based virtual environment designed to help training on semiconductor device fabrication processes and associated complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The virtual lab, developed by the Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering division (CEMSE) at KAUST, trains users in end-to-end device fabrication sequence using well-tested process protocols. Each training session is followed by an interactive Q&A session.

“I was inspired by the vision to provide access to thousands of students and other enthusiasts who do not have access to expensive cleanroom facilities,” said Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, a professor in the electric engineering program at CEMSE.

“vFabLab intends to provide the crucial element missing in online education, which is an experimental module through labs,” he added.

At the postgraduate level, distance learning is a gateway for students around the world to have an open access to knowledge and to engage with educational materials and approaches profoundly different from their customary ones.

“Distance learning is an important tool to provide enhanced learning opportunities to our globally mobile student population,” said Dr. Tony Chan, president of KAUST.

“In everything we do, we aim to be forward-looking. Distance learning fits perfectly with this aim,” Chan added.

KAUST’s first involvement in distance learning took place in 2017, in the CEMSE division. CEMSE and Blue Waters Online Course co-produced a MOOC (massive open online course) on high-performance computing featuring Professor David Keyes, director of the Extreme Computing Research Center (ECRC) at KAUST. Two years later, the vFabLab was introduced, taking e-learning to the next level.

“The virtual lab is an exciting idea to take a branch of science that has always been gated by the availability of an expensive lab,” said Professor Mootaz El-Nozahy, dean of CEMSE. “At KAUST, we are trying to take this concept to the farthest, thereby sharing our infrastructure with the world.”

The vFabLab was presented on April 24 during a webinar organized and hosted by the IEEE Electron Devices Society.

Established in 2009, KAUST is a graduate-level research university located on the shores of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The university is dedicated to advancing science and technology through interdisciplinary research, education and innovation. Research conducted by students, faculty, scientists and engineers aims to address the world’s pressing scientific and technological challenges related to food, water, energy and the environment.


360-degree mentoring to boost Saudi social enterprise sector

Updated 23 May 2019
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360-degree mentoring to boost Saudi social enterprise sector

The King Khalid Foundation (KKF) and Mowgli Mentoring have collaborated to strengthen the growing social enterprise sector in the Kingdom through the provision of 360-degree mentoring, which will support the personal and professional development of social entrepreneurs. The EMCC-accredited mentoring organization is working to built the capacity of Saudi mentors by instilling best mentoring practices and sharing experiences from its 10-year work around the world.

Globally, the concept of social entrepreneurship is increasingly gaining momentum and positive attention as it combines commerce with social good, allowing entrepreneurs to go beyond profit to positively impact communities and societies. Supporting these entrepreneurs, therefore, is in line with the KKF’s vision, which is to have a Saudi society with equal opportunities.

The KKF’s collaboration with Mowgli resulted in the creation of the Athar (Impact) Mentoring Program.

This program aims to build and increase the capacity of Saudi mentors, and equip them with the necessary tools to be able to provide mentorship, support and guidance to social entrepreneurs in the Kingdom. Matching mentors with social entrepreneurs and managing their mentorship relationships is a key benefit of the program.

To commence the mentoring program, Mowgli recently delivered a four-day workshop in the KKF premises in Riyadh. Fourteen professionals and business leaders received training to be 360-degree mentors before being matched with 14 social entrepreneurs. Both groups were provided with the guidelines to build solid foundations for their 1-2-1 mentoring relationships. In addition, the matched pairs will be supported over a duration of six months, during which structured on-going support will be provided to ensure that trust-based and impactful mentoring relationships are developed.

Mowgli Mentoring’s CEO Kathleen Bury said: “We see this program supporting the three themes on which the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 was built upon: Developing a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation. By supporting social entrepreneurs, we’re working toward achieving the Kingdom’s economic aspirations of increasing SME GDP contribution by 20–30 percent by 2030. We are, therefore, excited to be back in Saudi Arabia and are honored to be working with the King Khalid Foundation in delivering this program, and building Saudi Arabia’s mentoring capacity to sustainably support change-makers and their surrounding ecosystems for years to come.”

The key to developing entrepreneurship and fostering economic development lies in having a well-balanced ecosystem with equal investment in four key pillars: Environment (schooling, parenting), finance (working capital, debt and equity financing), infrastructure (incubators, accelerators, utilities and sound legal frameworks) and human capital development (mentoring, skills and knowledge development). Mowgli supports the latter and has successfully delivered more than 110 mentoring programs across the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.