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AUS calls for more Arab funding for research and innovation park
BY MOHAN VADAYAR March 29, 2015
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SHARJAH: The American University of Sharjah (AUS), as it now stands at the threshold of a wider spectrum of research-based education, hopes to get more Arab funding for research and for the proposed long-term Technological Innovation Park.

Interim Provost Kevin Lewis Mitchell told a group of journalists on March 25 at an AUS Media Roundtable that Arab funding for researches is not enough and called for a regional grouping like the US National Science Organisation to seek more funds, which is to be initiated by the presidential level of universities.

Unveiling the new and more research-oriented, both faculty and student level, face of the young university founded in 1997 by Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Dr  Sheikh  Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Mitchell said that AUS is enhancing the  overall research capability to become a regional hub for research.

Mitchell said university presidents have already embarked on talks to get more Arab funds for researches, the prime need for Arab societies and Arab education.

To drive the point home, he also underlined some of the major and mass appealing researches and scientific approaches which are being carried by AUS in recent years. To support these efforts, the university, one of the top universities in the world, has introduced some new higher degrees, post-graduate and doctorate programmes to its existing degrees.

This includes new specialisations and majors such as PhD programmes in engineering and business administration; new Masters in finance, new research faculties and projects for students and professors etc.

Currently, AUS offers 26 majors and 52 minors at the undergraduate level, and 14 Masters degrees through the College of Architecture, Art and Design; the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Engineering; and the School of Business Administration.

Talking on recent breakthroughs in researches, he said that AUS researchers are developing targeted chemotherapy treatment, a way to combat the harsh side effects of chemotherapy by using a more targeted treatment activated by ultrasound, which will provide solace and relief from pain for millions of cancer patients.

The several negative side effects, including hair loss, leucopenia (a decrease in white blood cells that compromises the immune system), and gastrointestinal problems (including nausea) in addition to others, are addressed in this research.

Another project is an energy harvesting technology by Dr Lutif Albasha and Dr Nasser Qassoumi and students.  A new laser-based technique to control chemical bonds inside molecules by Dr Ali Sami Alnaser is also with tangible results.

The energy-based blood sugar measuring medical chips — and the energy which can also power wireless sensors to monitor structural safety of bridges, roads and buildings and for boosting mobile phone battery life – is the result of energy harvesting technology. Dr Lutfi Albasha, Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering; Dr Nasser Qaddoumi, Professor and Interim Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering; a full-time research associate and six undergraduate students including three UAE nationals, are involved in this research. A CubeSat project with the support of EIAST of the UAE and AUS students is under progress.

The Lab on Wheels — highlighting inventions of Arab and Muslim World via experiments conducted at local secondary schools— has visited more than 200 schools with the message of research. CAAD faculty members Emily Baker and Kenneth Tracy received the 2015 Design Build Award at the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) 103rd Annual Meeting.

These and other similar ongoing and planned researches are funded by several local and foreign institutions.

“But the university is looking for funds for long-term researches,” Mitchell said adding that AUS, in last year semesters, received Dhs2.5 million for each.

The proposed Innovation Park, a long term project, is being established at a separate piece of land donated by Sheikh Sultan adjacent to AUS which will be one-of-its-kind in the region, Mitchell said. The preliminary work of this ambitious project is underway, he said.

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