King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Announces Academic Excellence Alliance Partnership with the University of California, Berkeley

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Partnership between KAUST and UC Berkeley will help establish academic curriculum, nominate founding faculty and establish collaborative research direction for the new international university.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) today announced their partnership in the Academic Excellence Alliance (AEA), designed to establish joint research, collaborate in the design of the academic curriculum, and identify and nominate the founding faculty in mechanical engineering for the new University.

KAUST is a new international, graduate-level research university opening in Saudi Arabia in 2009. The innovative new approach to institutional partnership and faculty nomination will enable KAUST to build its academic foundation during the University's first several years of operation, and it will expand UC Berkeley's capacity to carry out basic research and develop innovations that can benefit the people and economy of California.

KAUST's President-designate Professor Choon Fong Shih said, "UC Berkeley has a sterling reputation for world-class research and academic development. Partnering with UC Berkeley will help to establish a strong relationship between KAUST and similar departments and institutions around the world, further highlighting the many benefits we have to offer our students and faculty."

"I am excited and eager to proceed with this agreement," said Professor Al Pisano, chair of UC Berkeley's Mechanical Engineering Department. "UC Berkeley has a proud reputation of being concerned with the world at large and this agreement enables our department to participate on the world stage to solve technically problems of interest not only to the Middle East region and to the state of California but to the people of world."

KAUST will partner with UC Berkeley to:

  •     Jointly organize the graduate course curriculum and monitor performance
  •     Create and conduct joint research projects at UC Berkeley and at KAUST
  •     Collaborate in setting the requirements for the M.E., M.S.E., and Ph.D. degrees at KAUST
  •     Collaborate in the nomination of the initial group of KAUST faculty
  •     Collaborate in joint thesis advisory committees for Ph.D. candidates at KAUST
  •     Collaborate in joint programs to host visiting fellows, conduct seminars, and participate in technical symposia
  •     Collaborate on the design and acquisition of research equipment and facilities

"KAUST's decision to enter into an academic alliance with the UC Berkeley's Mechanical Engineering Department is based on its preeminent global reputation, built on the longtime scientific achievements of its faculty," said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, KAUST's interim president. "UC Berkeley will provide KAUST not only with the practical tools to build the new University's intellectual capital, but it is also a model of the sort of research university KAUST aspires to be."

By spring 2008, the AEA partners will have specified the KAUST core curriculum at a high level for prospective students and begun identifying the first group of KAUST founding faculty to deliver this curriculum to the entering class in September 2009.


King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, the region and around the globe. As an independent, merit-based institution, KAUST will employ many of the best practices from leading research universities and enable top researchers from around the globe and across all cultures to work together to solve challenging scientific and technological issues. The KAUST global research and education network will support diverse talents, both on its campus and at other premier universities and research institutions, through collaborative research agreements, grants, and student scholarship programs. KAUST will be merit-based, open to men and women from all cultures around the world, and governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. The core campus, located on more than 36 million square meters on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is set to open in September 2009. For more information about KAUST, visit

About University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley, established in 1868, is renowned for both its teaching and scholarship. Its faculty includes seven Nobel Laureates currently teaching and 28 MacArthur Foundation Fellows. It was named the best public university in the nation for 2008 by U.S. News & World Report.

Its Department of Mechanical Engineering has consistently ranked as one of the top mechanical engineering departments in the world. Its work ranges from the most fundamental, classical issues in engineering science to the latest cutting edge applications for the world around us. Current faculty research in the department includes robotics, miniaturization, automated manufacturing, automated highway systems, biomaterials, computer mechanics, improved efficiency internal combustion engines, and the dynamics and control of both ground vehicles and aircraft.


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