Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University (PMU) and National Instruments (NI) announced on May 2nd, 2011 the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which established the first NI Center of Excellence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at PMU. The mission of the Center is to achieve sustained excellence and leadership in the region by introducing innovative techniques of computer based design, analyses, measurement and control. The Graphical System Design Center of Excellence will provide a stimulating and attractive environment for teaching, research and development in the areas of Measurements & Instrumentation, Controls & Robotics, Communications, Embedded and Signal Processing, and Electronics.
PMU Rector, Dr. Issa Al-Ansari, stated at the inauguration of the center “[The Center of Excellence] is envisioned to act as an intellectual, scientific and technical resource to the local and national industry. This vision is congruent with one of the main objectives of PMU: to be a leading partnership university in the nation in the twenty-first century.” “The Center will form strong bonds with industry and become a major force in the Eastern Province engineering community, and position itself as a prime source of highly educated engineers,” he added.
Dr. Nassar Shaikh, PMU Vice Rector of Academic Affairs indicated that “The inauguration of the Center of Excellence is an important milestone achievement to fulfill our strategic plan to commission cutting-edge learning and research laboratories.” “This will raise the bar to our faculty and students to embark on a new paradigm of need-based engineering research,” he added.
At the signing of the MoU ceremony, Dr. Jamal Nayfeh, Dean of the College of Engineering gave an overview of the Center vision, mission, goals and objectives. He emphasized the educational, research, and training capabilities of the Center. He said “The Center consists of ten laboratories that meet basic and advanced instrumentation requirements for undergraduate curricula and senior design projects, future Masters of Science graduate curricula and interdisciplinary research theses, and in-house and external research projects.”
Dean Nayfeh elaborated “The Center will serve as a predominant resource of computer based instrumentation and control expertise for the industry in the Eastern Province and the rest of the Kingdom.” He added “The center will expose engineering students to cutting-edge technology and real-world learning opportunities that prepare them well for local and national high-tech careers.” Dr. Nayfeh further explained “Saudi government, industry, and business sectors that are involved in the development or use of instrumentation, measurement, and control hardware and software, or foresee their involvement in future applications and processes using these technologies, are encouraged to become involved in our Center of excellence research and development activities.” “This involvement will positively impact our future progress, and will help formulate our vision for developments and applications of local and national strategic interest spanning a multitude of engineering fields in the future,” he added.
Victor Mieres, Vice President – Asia/ RoW (Rest of the World) at National Instruments, highlighted the value of establishing such Centers of Excellence. He said, “This Center of Excellence will contribute to achieving sustainable development and enhance competitiveness of the national economy based on knowledge.” “The use of these state of the art technologies enhances engineering and science education by using experiential learning. This allows students to practically implement theoretical concepts they have studied and develop abilities in designing their own custom experiments, which in turn would provide them a competitive edge in meeting the needs of local industry.” “PMU, by adopting Graphical System Design tools for teaching engineering and science concepts, is providing the leading light to other educational institutions in implementation of modern teaching methodologies, thereby increasing competitiveness of students in the job market,” he added.
National Instruments is committed to enhancing engineering and science education worldwide by providing flexible software and modular hardware that work with mainstream computing technologies to help integrate theoretical concepts with real-world applications. With the establishment of the Centre, PMU will host a range of laboratories and research centers built on NI platforms. These platforms built using NI graphical programming tools and the open, modular hardware systems provide researchers the flexibility to port their Intellectual Property and algorithms onto industry standard platforms, thereby reducing the design cycle and getting to deployment faster, while simultaneously allowing development of indigenous products and solutions.
According to Michel Haddad, Managing Director, National Instruments Arabia, “We see a great value in such cooperation with universities, which help in local technological development and benefits the entire country. NI provides Graphical System Design tools and open platforms for research and development which are utilized by centers of learning such as PMU to create systems and solutions that aid regional development and help to increase the countries competitiveness.”
With the establishment of this Centre, PMU now joins the ranks (is now a part of the elite club) of prestigious universities worldwide such as the University of California at Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin as well as the American University of Beirut and Texas A&M University Qatar, the two other Centers of Excellence in the region.