An extensive and in-depth research portfolio is a key asset any engineering student hopes to have when applying to graduate schools. The story at Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), echoes it.
“I was given research opportunities that only graduate students usually get access to, all while I was a Tamuq undergrad,” said Rawad Yazbeck, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tamuq. Ralston Fernandes, another mechanical engineering graduate, agreed.
As undergraduate research assistants at Tamuq, both students were mentored by Dr Sami El-Borgi for a couple of years in the fields of applied mechanics and structural dynamics –– particularly in developing computational models and conducting experiments to monitor vibrations in oil and gas piping systems and in developing solutions to mitigate them.
Both Fernandes and Yazbeck said this experience exposed them to critical aspects of research such as performing exhaustive literature reviews, reproducing published data, developing new ideas for research, designing experiments, validating theoretical and simulation results with experiments, writing academic papers, presenting at conferences and writing research proposals.
Students at Tamuq have access to these experiences through financial support from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and Tamuq’s Responsive Research Seed Grants, which aim to build human capacity for Qatar.
During his time at Tamuq and with Dr El-Borgi’s international research collaborations, Fernandes worked with research teams in Canada and the UK to delve deeper into his areas of interest, an opportunity that is uncommon for undergraduate students, Fernandes said. After finishing his undergraduate career at Tamuq, Fernandes worked as a research assistant at his alma mater, where he was credited in seven journal publications.
Yazbeck, while a student at Tamuq, was part of a QNRF-funded project involving researchers from both Texas A&M campuses that has filed a patent related to vibration suppression in oil and gas piping systems, as well as another project that allowed them to start studying tensegrity projects. The projects led to two journal paper publications. He said that even today, these projects have had an impact on the pipeline infrastructure in Qatar and will have an important impact on space exploration with tensegrity structures.