Masdar Institute alumni are pursuing their dreams post-graduation, working for some of the world’s leading innovators and contributing to the UAE’s sustainable development and leadership.
Many of the Institute’s 450-some alumni are now working at leading organizations in the UAE and around the world, where they are building successful careers in the fields of renewable energy, environment, smart systems and sustainable technologies. As Masdar Institute gears up for its sixth commencement on 24 May, the progress and impact of five of the Institute’s notable alumni are highlighted.
Reem Ketait, Class of 2014
Masdar Institute Class of 2014 Engineering Systems and Management graduate Reem Ketait is a UAE national who says she is living her dream with her post-graduation role in the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“Joining the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was a turning point in my life. Being able to dedicate myself to the UAE’s diplomatic efforts in a field that is close to my heart was as an unexpected gift!” Ketait shared.
She now assists in mapping and supporting the UAE’s efforts to advance its clean energy financial investments and collaborations, which reached US$840 million in the past year alone.
Ketait is also a member of the inaugural batch of students at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, which was established in 2014 to equip the UAE’s current and future diplomats with the knowledge and multi-disciplinary skills to effectively serve their nation.
The young Emirati diplomat attributes her diplomatic service work to the knowledge gained while at Masdar Institute.
“The lessons derived from the Masdar Institute community of professors and students allow alumni to stand out in a room of professionals. The experiences and understanding we gained as students enable us to ‘hit the ground running’,” she said.
While at Masdar Institute, Ketait had engaged in many networking and research opportunities, including an internship in Japan; a semester abroad where she contributed to NASA’s Ames’ Sustainability Base research team in California, USA; a trip to Varanasi, India where she assisted a non-governmental organization in its microfinance efforts; and a volunteer opportunity with the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) Review Committee – an annual award that celebrates achievements that reflect impact, innovation, long-term vision and leadership in renewable energy and sustainability, where Al Dhaheri continues to serve.
“I was privileged to be a member of the first batch of IRENA scholarship recipients, which complimented the understanding I gained through my Master’s program of context-based national needs, which is key to the effective integration of renewables in the region,” she recalled.
Brian Warshay, Class of 2011
Brian Warshay, who graduated with his MSc degree in Engineering Systems and Management from Masdar Institute in 2011, leveraged his degree and experience to now work for a renewable energy company headed by one of the world’s leading technology pioneers – Elon Musk.
Today the young American is a lead energy analyst at SolarCity, an American provider of energy services, including designing, financing and installing solar power systems. SolarCity was established by Peter and Lyndon Rive, cousins of the illustrious Musk, who is now the company’s chairman.
“I perform technical and economic analysis on SolarCity’s new in-home load management and storage products and evaluate the impact new residential rate designs have on the cost-effectiveness of our products and bill savings for our customers,” he explained.
Warshay credited the experience he gained during his thesis research and his volunteer work for ZFEP, as being instrumental in helping him gain invaluable skills and networking opportunities.
“My life-cycle analysis research and thesis at Masdar Institute helped me hone my research and technical writing skills, while my time as a volunteer with the Zayed Future Energy Prize judging committee introduced me to some folks at Lux Research, which I eventually cultivated into a job,” he recalled.
“I also learned that to facilitate a more sustainable way of living, and to develop and maintain lasting relationships, I must value everyone’s opinion, communicate effectively, and be open to compromise.”
In his role as an analyst, he provided support to the US Department of Energy several times, helping to inform American national policymakers regarding smart grid and energy storage technologies. An article he wrote about upgrading the US electric grid was even featured in the notable Foreign Affairs magazine.
Warshay looks forward to building his career at SolarCity, where he will continue to support the deployment of solar and other smart home technologies, contributing towards a sustainable, renewable energy-powered future.
“Despite the widespread evidence and consensus about the impacts of climate change, policy support remains uncertain, especially in struggling economies. That is why solutions that are economic today provide the most promise to shift our demand away from fossil fuels in the near-term. These incremental improvements will pave the way for technological breakthroughs to be developed that will dramatically alter and improve the way we generate and consume energy. I hope to be an integral part of this energy revolution,” he shared.
Maitha Al Kaabi, Class of 2012
Another Masdar Institute graduate who has directly applied the knowledge and experience she gained during her time at Masdar Institute to supporting her country and the global fight against climate change is Maitha Al Kaabi, Class of 2012 MSc in Water and Environmental Engineering graduate.
Al Kaabi is currently energy and climate change attaché at the UAE Embassy in the People’s Republic of China, where she works to help strengthen the relationship between the UAE and China in the areas of energy and climate change, a role that she says Masdar Institute helped prepare her for.
“As a diplomat, it is critical to have strong communication skills; which I strengthened through exposure to Masdar Institute’s extremely diverse and well-educated faculty and student body,” Al Kaabi shared.
“The Institute also provided me with a powerful combination of technical understanding from coursework and research along with knowledge of policy-making from institute activities, such as the student ambassador’s program and the Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program,” she added.
Al Kaabi is no stranger to international adventures. During her studies at Masdar Institute she was a member of the International Antarctic Expedition (IAE) 2012 team led by polar explorer Robert Swan that culminated in planting the UAE and Masdar Institute flags in Antarctica. She also represented the YFEL at the RIO+20 Summit in 2012.
She says she is most proud of helping to facilitate bilateral discussions between the UAE and China that led to a USD10 billion commitment by the UAE and China to invest in infrastructure and energy, including a significant allocation for clean energy.
“I believe I contributed to changing the way China thinks of the UAE. Before, may have seen the China saw the UAE only as a source of oil, but now, China also sees the UAE as a hub for clean energy advancement,” Al Kaabi said.
She plans to continue to serve as a representative of the UAE in the international community and hopes to help pave the way for young women in the UAE.
Fazil Abdul Rahiman, Class of 2012
Masdar Institute Class of 2012 MSc in Electrical Power Engineering graduate Fazil Abdul Rahiman not only stayed close to his passion of sustainability following his graduation, but he also stayed close to Abu Dhabi, seeking a posting in nearby Dubai.
The young Indian is currently the assistant technical manager at Dubai Carbon Center of Excellence, where he manages energy, green economy strategies and policies; and climate change mitigation for a range of projects.
“I am happy to be supporting the Dubai Government’s energy and climate change policy, strategy and execution,” he shared.
In this role, Rahiman has developed resource efficiency policy and strategies for Dubai Government and its key government bodies for electricity and water, transport, waste, and manufacturing.
“I am very proud to be contributing to the development of National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and Systems for the UAE, Oman and Kuwait, together with the UNEP and related ministries,” he added.
Rahiman is also broadening the impact of his studies and his commitment to sustainability as a taskforce member in the Arab Sustainable Energy Initiative under the Clean Energy Business Council and the United Nations Development Programme. He also serves as the secretary for Dubai’s Carbon Abatement Strategy Technical Committee and has spoken at many related international and regional conferences.
“Masdar Institute instilled in me the ambition, confidence and expertise to engage in finding answers to the globe’s pressing issues: climate change and energy efficiency,” he explained.
Going forward, the young policy professional plans to continue working in the sustainable energy policy and strategy realm, through which he aims to contribute to the global fight against climate change.
“I hope to play a constructive role in supporting the global climate change mitigation efforts and to address energy problems. Devising well-considered policy and emission reduction strategies will help fight climate change while implementation of effective demand side management programs will tackle the region’s energy issues,” he concluded.
Mohamed Al Sharhan, Class of 2013
Masdar Institute Class of 2013 Engineering Systems and Management graduate Mohamed Al Sharhan has also used his degree as a stepping stone to give back to his home country of the UAE by enhancing sustainability in its transportation sector.
As a First Lieutenant at the Ministry of Interior, Al Sharhan works as a traffic and transportation engineer at the Department of Traffic Engineering, Abu Dhabi Police HQ. Here, he works to maintain high safety and efficiency levels within Abu Dhabi’s transportation system and supports the development of the Safe Smart City initiative, which is aimed at improving transportation development from a safety perspective.
“The courses at Masdar Institute helped me develop my analytical and research skills, which help me accurately assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed,” Al Sharhan said.
In the three years since he graduated, Al Sharhan has continued to pursue his passion for sustainability and innovation, even participating in the Ministry of Interior’s Innovation Centre, where he was honored by Lt. General HH Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. He also went on to complete the Abdulaziz Bin Humaid Leadership Program.
“I will always be grateful to the Masdar Institute family for being a change agent in my life. Masdar Institute made me a stronger human being with a clear vision and a better citizen who is striving to serve his country and payback his community,” he shared.
These five alumni represent just a small snapshot of the diverse activities and accomplishments of Masdar Institute’s alumni, who span nine Master’s degree programs and an interdisciplinary Doctoral Degree program. With the graduation of the Masdar Institute Class of 2016 later this month, the global push for sustainability will receive another critical infusion of talent.
Zarina Khan, Senior Editor and Erica Solomon, News and Features Writer
15 May 2016