-By Nigel Clarkson and Caitlin Clark, KAUST News
When Mayadah AlHashem (M.S. '16, mechanical engineering) graduated from high school, she was offered multiple scholarships to study outside of Saudi Arabia. However, she chose the KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP), through which she earned her undergraduate degree abroad before embarking on her graduate degree at KAUST.
"My father worked at KAUST when I was in high school and I used to visit him on campus. The environment, the high caliber of the University and all of the bright minded people that I met at KAUST convinced me that this place was one-of-a-kind," she said.
After receiving her bachelor of science in chemical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2015, AlHashem interned at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, UAE, for a short period before beginning her master's degree at KAUST.
AlHashem currently works as a flow assurance engineer in Saudi Aramco's Upstream Technology Support Division under the Production & Facilities Development Department (P&FDD) in Dhahran.
"I've been amazed how Aramco invests in its employees, both technically and professionally, and the unit I work in is extremely compatible with my interests, skills and technical background," AlHashem said. "Another aspect I love about my job is the supportive environment—being in a small unit that feels like a family put an end to shying away from asking questions or from getting help and mentorship from team members."
AlHashem noted she was well-positioned for success in her new role thanks to her KAUST experience.
"The wonderful thing about the talented KAUST students and alumni is that they carry the University's excellent reputation wherever they go. KAUST alumni have a strong presence in Aramco and have shown their technical and professional capabilities, paving the road for new hires coming from KAUST," she continued. "By the time I joined my department, team members already had the impression I would be hardworking—an additional motive for me to match and exceed their expectations."
"KAUST helps you network with high-caliber individuals and perform research in extremely advanced labs. Students come from all around the world, and sometimes they come to campus just for an internship to use a certain lab or a device to complete their research," she said.
"The University not only helped me develop as a student researcher, but it also offered many workshops and professional development opportunities—for example, developing skills in presenting and writing and preparing a strong resume. Being able to communicate findings in scientific work is extremely important."
AlHashem hopes that all who study at KAUST will have as positive an experience as she has had.
"KAUST has a unique culture that exists in no other place in the world. To make the most of it, you need to diversify your acquaintances and try new things. At KAUST, you get to choose how you want your experience to be," she said.