College of Engineering

KU Students Join the 2020 University Innovation Fellows Training Program

November 24, 2020

Petroleum Engineering students Amna Omar Hassan Shuhail Alqahtani, Fatema Ahmed Abdulla Qadah Al Shehhi, and Alia Fauzi Abubaker Abdulla Alkatheeri, and Chemical Engineering student Reem Aldahmani, have been chosen to participate in the 2020 University Innovation Fellows (UIF) training program.


The University Innovation Fellows is a program of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ( It was created as part of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), a five-year National Science Foundation grant. 


The program builds a global community of higher education student leaders to become agents of change in their schools and their communities. Almost 200 students from 45 higher education institutions in 14 countries have been named University Innovation Fellows this year. The Fellows who are part of the program are trained to ensure that they gain the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need to be able to thrive and compete in our complex and ever-changing world.  


At the end of the training program, University Innovation Fellows are expected to work with their peers, faculty, and administrators to unlock new learning opportunities for students at their campuses to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking, and creativity. They will serve as advocates for lasting institutional change with academic leaders, lending the much-needed student voice to the conversations about the future of higher education.


Dr. Ahmed Al Shoaibi, Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Services, said: “We are keen to have our students participate in international programs. The engagement of our students in international learning and research is critical to KU’s vision as a research-intensive university with a transformative student learning experience. The students’ participation in international programs is a testament of going beyond the comfort zone and aiming to achieve global recognition.”


During the 6-week online training, the Fellows learned how to analyze their campus ecosystems, identify opportunities for change, and understand the needs of their peers across disciplines, as well as the perspectives of faculty and administrators. On 10 October 2020, the KU UIF Fellows presented their project ideas to faculty members and stakeholders of Khalifa University. There were three ideas the students came up with—the Help App, Virtual Labs Program, and the Digital Maker Space.



Help App


This project is an easy way for students to access the contact information of departments and services at KU. The aim is to ensure that students can easily reach anyone from the University when they need help, whether this be their instructors or services for students.


Virtual Labs Program


The Virtual Labs Program is an innovative approach to learning, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as some students may find it challenging to have access and use traditional labs. The idea is to provide general technology skills training to students who have virtual labs that require software installation, providing them with all the information they need to download and utilize the software to their advantage for their online labs tasks.


Digital Maker Space


One of the resources that KU students have on campus is the Maker Space, a place where students can meet to share knowledge and resources, work on projects, and network with other students. The group came up with the idea of creating a “Digital Maker Space,” which is an online version of the Maker Space on campus. This project intends to help KU students continue learning, discovering, and trying new things albeit virtually.


The UIF training program was an enlightening learning experience for the group. The students would like to thank Khalifa University, especially Dr. Nicholas Dimmitt, Associate Professor of English, who nominated them to the program; as well as Dr. Waleed Alameri, Assistant Professor of Petroleum Engineering and Eng. Abdessamia Jebbouri of the Petroleum Engineering Department for the support they showed from the application process and throughout the duration of the program.


Alia Alkatheeri: “The bright side of this experience is that I am able to improve my thinking and problem solving skills. I’m so thankful for having this opportunity.”


Reem Aldahmani: “What I learned from this experience is that group work is very important in order to come up with different ideas and see problems from different perspectives. This program gave me an opportunity to help my creative potential and develop the design-centered mindset required to overcome today’s complex challenges.”


Fatima Alshehhi: “Joining this program was the best investment I’ve ever made for myself, as well as the start of a life-changing journey because it helped me expand my knowledge in innovation and entrepreneurship.”


Amna Alqahtani: “The program was a great and interesting experience to me. It taught me the process of problem-solving known as design thinking and what I learned from this program is to try to come up with different ways to solve a problem and then filter those ideas in order to offer suitable solutions for a person’s needs.”


Ara Cruz
Creative Writer
24 November 2020