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COLLEGE STATION - Half a world away in the deserts of the United Arab Emirates, the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Texas A&M’s engineering program are providing leadership for the American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) engineering programs. The University was established in 1997 by the Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, who serves as the president of the AUS Board of Directors. The Emirate of Sharjah is located adjacent to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. As part of a $3.6 million project, TEES provides the dean and associate dean for the university’s School of Engineering. The principal investigator of the project is TEES scientist L.S. "Skip" Fletcher, who has worked to establish the engineering program since 1997 - before the initial Memorandum of Agreement was signed the following year. In July 2002, an expanded Memorandum of Agreement was signed between TEES, Texas A&M University and the American University of Sharjah, which extends the association through August 2004. "We’re trying very hard to strengthen the reputation of the institution as being the premier institution of the Gulf region, and it’s becoming that," Fletcher said. "We want to be sure they get a comparable education to what we give in the United States. The objective is really to establish this as a quality institution." Both Texas A&M University and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station are recognized in the United Arab Emirates for their outstanding programs and research in engineering, Fletcher said. AUS officials wanted to tap into this expertise in establishing their own engineering program. "We have focused on quality and outstanding laboratory support," said Fletcher, who is the Regents Professor and Thomas A. Dietz Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M. "We have the best labs in the region, and that’s because of the way we put it together. Over the next year, I think we’ll see additional strides in collaborating with industry." Dr. Leland Blank, a Texas A&M professor emeritus in industrial engineering and former Assistant Provost, serves as dean of engineering at AUS. Blank and his wife Dr. Sallie Sheppard, professor emeritus of computer science and former associate provost for undergraduate programs at Texas A&M, moved to the United Arab Emirates last year. Sheppard is the AUS associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, where she has a leadership role in expanding academic operations. More than 700 undergraduate students from more than 20 countries study civil, chemical, electrical, computer and mechanical engineering. Under Blank’s guidance, AUS has initiated graduate programs in Mechatronics Engineering and Engineering Systems and Management. "Significant industry and government outreach and research programs have been initiated," Blank said. "AUS is following in the TEES and TAMU tradition of quality service to citizens." Research programs are active in areas such as water and soil environments, energy management, building code development for earthquake-prone areas, microwave detection of faults and materials systems design for Middle East climates. Blank said he hopes to see more faculty and student exchange programs between Texas A&M’s engineering program and the American University of Sharjah. Already, he said, several AUS graduates are pursuing master’s degrees at Texas A&M. Also, Dr. Steven Gyeszly, TEES research associate professor, serves as the associate dean of engineering, providing leadership in engineering curriculum development, laboratory development and student services. During the last academic year, Suzanne Gyeszly, Texas A&M professor and director of the Policy Sciences and Economics Library at Texas A&M, worked in the AUS library, where she served as a consultant in collections development and planning for the new AUS library to be constructed next year. Blank said AUS is an example of how TEES and Texas A&M are providing leadership in the Middle East to establishing quality institutions based on the American model of higher education. "There’s a strong American and Aggie influence, through TEES and Texas A&M - that is taking part in that area of the Middle East and helping shape their educational institutions and research imperatives," he said. CONTACT: Dr. L.S. "Skip" Fletcher Dr. Leland Blank American University of Sharjah American University of Sharjah - NR 1085 9/13/02