May 8th, 2019 – Beirut, Lebanon: LebNet and the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), signed a Memorandum of Understanding at AUB’s faculty to announce the launch of a joint initiative called SiliconValley@MSFEA.
The initiative was signed by George Akiki, LebNet’s co-founder and CEO, and Dr. Alan Shihadeh, the Dean of MSFEA. Both parties signed the MoU in the presence of faculty members.
SiliconValley@MSFEA aims at leveraging the expertise of LebNet’s members in North America to support college students in Lebanon through several tracks: advisory, internship opportunities, talks and seminars, entrepreneurship support and mentorship, collaboration on Final Year Projects (FYP) and research with industry.
AUB students will have access to LebNet’s existing internship program. Under the Silicon Valley Channel track, both AUB and non-AUB students will be able to join a series of talks and seminars delivered by LebNet members to share knowledge and expertise on various topics of interest.
LebNet will also provide problems in search of a solution for senior students to adopt as their Final Year Projects and furthermore, LebNet members will define industry relevant research projects for graduate students and faculty members. LebNet will be represented at the MSFEA International Advisory board.
Under the Entrepreneurship Program at MSFEA track, LebNet members will act as a brain trust by providing coaching, mentoring and advising.
“Our network of over 1,000 members in the US and Canada is always looking for impactful and results-oriented opportunities to give back to Lebanon. We felt that AUB’s vision and MSFEA’s plans were inline with how we wanted to make an impact and we were very encouraged by Dean Shihadeh’s energy and detailed follow-up which increases our chances of success in adding value to Lebanese students,” said Akiki.
“I was looking back in my notebook this morning. I had a meeting with George in a restaurant on February 26, where we cooked up on the back of a napkin this initiative. The project we were working on was to see how we can leverage the Lebanese talent in the technology sector in North America to make a difference here at AUB and create two-way opportunities,” said Shihadeh.
The Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) was named in January 2017 for alumnus, trustee, entrepreneur, investor, business leader, and philanthropist Maroun Semaan. Engineering education at AUB, however, dates back more than a hundred years to 1913 when the Faculty of Arts and Sciences introduced a program leading to a BS degree in engineering. AUB awarded the first engineering degree (BS in civil engineering) in 1944. The faculty is now AUB’s second largest with over 2,300 undergraduates, 350 master’s students, almost 100 doctoral students; and over 175 instructional faculty. In 2017, Dean Alan Shihadeh and his colleagues began to introduce changes to make MSFEA a catalyst for transformative change that embraces innovation, pedagogy, and knowledge production to promote human well-being.
LebNet is a network for tech professionals of Lebanese descent in North America. This premier Diaspora group is a US registered 501c3 non-profit organization launched in 1999 in Silicon Valley, California. Today LebNet has more than 1,000 members organized by communities in 10 cities across US and Canada and dedicated to enable tech entrepreneurs and professionals succeed on a global stage. It includes Fortune 500 managers and executives, CxO’s, Venture Capitalists and investors, Start-up founders and entrepreneurs, academics, consultants and small business owners. LebNet programs focus on education, mentoring, and internships promoting career advice and feedback on business plans including a flagship program LebNet Ignite, a 2-week residential accelerator boot camp in Silicon Valley for Lebanese startup founders. In pursuing its mission to Connect, Network and Nurture, LebNet hosts regular talks, meetups and sessions in the US and Canada and seeks to empower the Lebanese diaspora while giving back to Lebanese entrepreneurs, youth and professionals in Lebanon.