Students from Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) recently had the opportunity to defend their master’s theses to faculty and staff, ahead of becoming the first graduating class from the research university’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE). HBKU is celebrating an academic milestone this year with the graduation of its first cohort of master’s degree students from CSE. Among the Class of 2017 are 7 graduating with a Master of Science (MSc) in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), 7 with an MSc in Sustainable Energy, and 3 with an MSc in Sustainable Environment.
With the rapid economic development and population growth in Qatar, healthcare and sustainability were identified and highlighted as two of the grand challenges that needed tackling as part of Qatar National Vision 2030. Their importance was further highlighted in the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011–2016, which called for “more sustainable urbanisation and a healthier living environment”. The BBS and the two sustainability programs were launched two years ago in response to the growing industry demand for experts in these fields, and were deemed central to the long-term aspirations and needs of Qatar and the region.
“As a pioneering educational institution, the graduation of the first graduates in biological and biomedical sciences, sustainable energy, and sustainable environment marks a significant milestone for HBKU,” says Dr. Mounir Hamdi, the Founding Dean of HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering. "The establishment of various biomedical and health sciences institutes and national projects in Qatar, and the influx of biological and biomedical researchers, is a testament to the potential that resides here in that field. One can find traditional graduate programs in life sciences almost anywhere. However, with new connections established between environment, genetics, development of disease, and personalized medicine, HBKU was prompted to establish multi-disciplinary biological and biomedical sciences graduate programs.”
HBKU’s BBS master’s programme has exposed the newly graduating students to state-of-the-art basic, clinical, and translational life sciences research. Students are trained to be the next generation of experts in their field with a full spectrum of knowledge across a range of interrelated subject areas and are given the highly specialised training needed to ensure they are capable of translating research findings into clinical benefits.
Similarly, the Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Environment programs address important issues facing the region in energy and environment. The centuries to come will bring myriad challenges brought on by inefficient and unequal supply of society’s basic goods and services including food, water, energy, land, and shelter. These problems are amplified, and in some cases created, by non-sustainable practices and policies. Moving toward a sustainable society presents a series of interdependent, multidisciplinary and conflicting challenges for all professions, especially engineers, scientists, teachers, businessmen, and policy-makers.
“HBKU’s sustainability programmes are designed to grow future generations of stakeholders, innovators, leaders, scientists, engineers, managers, and entrepreneurs who have an advanced understanding of sustainability issues and research skills in this field,” explains Dr. Hamdi. “Our sustainability graduates leave us extremely skilled at finding a balance between long-term development needs and the protection of health, wealth and the environment.”
As with the BBS program, the multidisciplinary aspect is again present in HBKU’s Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Environment programmes, as both incorporate study across a broad range of environmental sciences, social sciences, engineering and technology in their curriculum alongside exceptional opportunity for research.