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American Consul General lauds creativity, innovation
By Matovu Abdallah Twaha June 04, 2014
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DUBAI: The American Consul General in Dubai, Rob Waller, has said that although by the time he graduated 20 years ago there were no YouTube and other social media, “the skills of Service Leadership Innovation”, a course offered by the Dubai-based US affiliated Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), “are very critical and will always be in demand.”

“Innovation is the building cornerstone,” said the diplomat during the 3rd Commencement Ceremony of RIT Dubai where 22 students, including the first group graduating with a bachelor’s degree from RIT Dubai, were passed out at Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City on June 2.

The RIT Chairman of Board of Directors, Dr Khalid Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, appealed to the graduates to be “alert and watchful” in their “second university — life outside school where a simple mistake may not lead to have you re-sit an exam but rather can have you fired from the job.”

In his address, the President of RIT, a satellite institute established in Dubai in 2008 with its 185-year old parent in New York, Youssef Al-Assaf emphasised the value of sharing happiness.

“If you asked anybody here what he or she wants to be in the next five years, the answer would be ‘I want to be happy’, but you need to share that happiness.

“A degree per se is not enough. You have to participate in making other people happy and change the way people perceive you,” he said adding, “for a country to be happy, it has to share happiness with other countries.”

One of the graduates, Shahid Saleem from the discipline of Service Leadership Innovation (SLI), told The Gulf Today that the skills he has gained would guide him to cope with the “changing perspective of business. Very few universities such as RIT and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offer SLI.”

His colleague, Fallou Diom, a Senegalese working as a Resource manager in General Electric, said SLI “offers you skills that keep you out of thinking within the proverbial box.”

He added: “We have already formed a team at General Electric competing for Dubai’s Dhs1m Drone for good Award.”

The Provost of RIT New York, Dr Jeremy Haefner, said: “We are proud to support Dubai’s initiative to become a ‘Smart City’ over the next few years and look forward to the impact these innovations will have on your community and the world.”

The commencement address was delivered by the 32-year-old Emirati entrepreneur and academic, Anas Bu-Khash, the founder of the Ahdaaf Sports Club in Dubai.

“There is no real formula for succeeding in the business world, but there are three main factors that frequently lead to success: Passion, Planning, and Perseverance.”

During the ceremony, student achievements were recognised and celebrated, especially the outstanding students of Dr Ghalib Kahwaji, professor of mechanical engineering. His team recently won first place in the 5th annual Engineering Students Renewable Energy Competition (ESREC), the largest meeting of engineering students in the field of renewable energy in the Gulf region.

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