First Graduates Earn Degrees at Texas A&M Qatar

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DOHA, Qatar - Texas A&M University at Qatar honored Hessa Al-Missned and Aisha Al-Wadaani Monday night at a graduation recognition celebration. Al-Missned and Al-Wadaani are the first graduates from Texas A&M at Qatar since the university opened its branch campus in Doha in 2003.

Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO of Texas A&M at Qatar, said the university's first graduates mark the beginning of a new era. "Texas A&M University takes pride not only in its students, but also in its former students, who are known for their lifelong kinship with Texas A&M," Weichold said. "As these two engineers begin their careers, I am confident they will represent the university well."

Weichold pointed out that Al-Missned and Al-Wadaani, both chemical engineering majors, met the same rigorous degree requirements as graduates from the university's main campus in College Station, Texas. "As the University's first graduates in Doha - and as women engineers - Hessa and Aisha are pioneers in their own right," Weichold said. "I'm hopeful Hessa and Aisha will stay connected with Texas A&M at Qatar as mentors for younger students."

Jim Holste, associate dean for research and graduate studies, has been at Texas A&M at Qatar since Al-Missned and Al-Wadaani began their studies in 2003. He said their graduation affirms Texas A&M at Qatar's mission of educating first-class engineers.

"These two students have undergone a challenging course of study and have succeeded," Holste said. "Their diligence has paid off, and we are proud of this fantastic accomplishment."

Chuck Bowman, dean emeritus of Texas A&M at Qatar and professor emeritus of petroleum engineering at the main campus in College Station, delivered congratulatory remarks to the students. He implored them to apply their engineering knowledge to the pursuit of solving humankind's most pressing problems. "There is plenty for all of you to do during your working lifetimes, as engineers, as leaders, as contributors to the society of your country, and to the world,"

Bowman said. "I'm an optimist. I'm optimistic that you are up to the challenge. I'm optimistic that our collective voyage into the future is in good hands."

Al-Missned and Al-Wadaani said they are delighted to celebrate their graduation and look forward to contributing to the development of their country. Al-Missned's studies at Texas A&M at Qatar were sponsored by the Higher Council on Education and Al-Wadaani was sponsored by Qatar Petroleum.

Texas A&M at Qatar is in its fifth year of operation and officials anticipate that about 20 more students will graduate in May 2008.

Since classes began in 2003, enrollment has climbed from 29 students to 271 for the Fall 2007 semester. The university received more than 1,000 applications for this year's class, and only 98 students were enrolled. Texas A&M at Qatar offers accredited undergraduate degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical and petroleum engineering at Qatar Foundation's Education City. In addition to engineering courses, Texas A&M at Qatar provides instruction in science, mathematics, liberal arts and the humanities.