EERC Conducts 1st Workshop

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UAE national Mohammad Chooka (left), meets Department of Mechanical Engineering Chair Dr. Avram Bar-Cohen (center) and University of Maryland President Dr. C.D. Mote, Jr. (right) at the Petroleum Institute of Abu Dhabi in early January. Chooka is a Ph.D. student advised by Professor of Reliability Engineering Mohammad Modarres.

The first annual Workshop of the Energy Education and Research Collaboration (EERC) between the University of Maryland and the Petroleum Institute (PI) was conducted in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on January 4-5 in the presence of University of Maryland President Dr. C.D. Mote, Jr., and His Excellency Dr. Yousef Omeir bin Yousef Al Omeir, Chairman of the Board of the Petroleum Institute and CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. The workshop reviewed the accomplishments of the EERC’s first year and identified ways to secure the path and achieve the promise of this broad education and research collaboration.

The EERC agreement was created to enhance the collaborative educational and research activities in the field of energy sciences and engineering, and to enhance the undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs of both institutions. Professor Mike Ohadi initiated the preliminary contacts between the PI and Maryland in 2005, followed by Dr. Bin Yousef’s visit to Maryland to ratify the agreement in October 2006.

President Mote and nine University of Maryland faculty participated in the workshop. The Maryland attendees were Chair and Distinguished University Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Avram Bar-Cohen, Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair Dr. Ali Haghani, Senior Associate Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business Dr. G. Anandalingam, EERC Research Manager Dr. Azar Nazeri, and Professors Shapour Azarm, A.K. Gupta, Greg Jackson, Mohammad Modarres, and Reinhard Radermacher, all of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Workshop attendees representing the Petroleum Institute included Chief Academic Officer and Acting Exectutive Director Mike Ohadi, along with Professors Ali Almansoori, Ahmed Abdala, Neveen Al-Qasas, Tareq Al-Ameri, Mohamed Sassi, Saleh Al-Hashimi, Isoroku Kubo, Abdennour Seibi, Mansour Karkoub, Youssef Abdel Magid, Valerie Eveloy, Afshin Goharzadeh, and Peter Rodgers.

The first day of the workshop featured Maryland and PI joint faculty presentations reviewing each of the thirteen EERC collaborative projects. Dr. Bar-Cohen highlighted collaboration achievements - including ten joint journal and conference publications completed in the first year, more than 20 faculty visits between PI & Maryland, and the education and academic advisement of over 20 Ph.D. and M.S. students sponsored under the agreement.

The second day of the workshop focused on the development of a shared future vision for the EERC, including educational programs, extracurricular student activities, infrastructure development, and research in the science and technology of energy systems. Presentations by President Mote, Dr. Bin Yousef, and Dr. Ohadi set the stage for very fruitful discussions. Particular attention was devoted to the articulation of two proposed research thrusts - the first centered on fuel processing & energy conversion, and the second focused on risk-based design and operational decision-making. In the coming months PI and UMD faculty will be meeting to develop more detailed plans for evolving the EERC from a nascent partnership to a joint center of excellence in the region and the world.

At the end of the workshop Dr. Bin Yousef expressed his pleasure with the initial EERC accomplishments and his optimism for the future of the collaboration, and emphasized the need for UMD and PI faculty to work as one team.

After the conclusion of the workshop, President Mote was the featured lecturer at the 17th Leaders in Engineering Seminar at the Petroleum Institute, and also the commencement speaker at the PI Commencement Ceremony.

Published February 1, 2008