While Lebanon’s education sector remains one of the country’s strongest pillars, it is being jeopardized today due to several factors such as the dramatic devaluation of the Lebanese pound and the deterioration of living conditions resulting in increasing rates of student drop-outs.
“Lebanon needs to urgently reform the education sector and build forward better,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director in a press release about the Bank’s recent report on education in Lebanon. “Now more than ever, Lebanon needs to invest more making sure Lebanese youth are well equipped with the right skills required by the job market to enable them to contribute to Lebanon’s economic recovery”.
Since the future of any country relies on its youth, there’s an increasing need to invest in the future generation and feed it the right skills needed to build a sustainable future.
As a key player in investing in Lebanon’s youth, LebNet has partnered with the Lebanese American University (LAU) in 2020 and the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) since 2019, to offer customized seminars, lectures and programs given exclusively by LebNet expert members to students.
A Glimpse at The Silicon Valley Knowledge
Since 2019, LebNet has been working closely with AUB’s engineering faculty to offer tech talks ranging from robotics, 5G, tech trends to career development. The series - which is named The Silicon Valley Channel and features six episodes to date - is one of the major components in the partnership and aims at leveraging the expertise of LebNet’s members in North America to support college students in Lebanon.
“The collaboration between LebNet and MSFEA has been successful so far as we were able to expose MSFEA students to a wide range of speakers and experts in interesting and diverse fields from North America,” said Mona Itani, Coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Initiative, Senior Instructor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at MSFEA. “It was very timely as we introduced the SiliconValley Channel just before the pandemic and our students were very receptive to it since everything moved online.”
Access to North American based Companies
In addition to the tech talks, LebNet’s partnership with the MSFEA included giving engineering students the chance to work with US-based companies for their final year projects (FYPs) and course projects. For the academic year 2019-2020, four teams from AUB worked with two companies in the US: Asurion (a device insurance, warranty, and support services provider for cell phones, consumer electronics, and home appliances) and FADEL (the creator of rights and royalty management software). Here’s what the mentors at these companies had to say about working with Lebanese tech students.
Other components in the LebNet-AUB partnership included offering internship opportunities, entrepreneurship support and soon to be announced is a customized mentorship program for their senior engineering students.
“We aspire to increase the number of events planned with LebNet to foster the interest of more students from various backgrounds including design and architecture. We are also planning to increase the number of female speakers, mentors, and judges in entrepreneurship competitions and programs with the help of LebNet,” said Itani.
LAU/LebNet Partnership: A iLEAP of faith
iLEAP, which stands for Industry-focused Lebanese Education & Academia Partnership initiative, is a program established between LebNet and LAU that offers LAU students accredited academic seminars and lectures given by experienced LebNet members.
The topics are industry focused and complement LAU's academic offering. So far, the program has delivered four lectures on autonomous driving, AI applications within semiconductor manufacturing, technology trends and challenges in the automotive, aerospace and e-commerce industries and 5G. For more details on the lectures and the speakers, visit this link.
“One main goal of LAU’s School of Engineering is to enable our students to succeed as engineers, innovators and responsible citizens, and to provide them with distinctive skills that are sought after in the professional world and in graduate schools. iLEAP supports this goal by leveraging the industry experience of highly qualified LebNet members who engage with us in mentoring our students on emerging technologies and businesses,” said Lina Karam, Dean of the School of Engineering at LAU, IEEE Fellow and
In the future, Karam would like to expand iLEAP further: “We would like to grow and expand the iLEAP initiative by offering short courses and full courses to our students given by highly qualified LebNet members. We would also like to engage LebNet members as co-mentors for our students on real-world projects as well as coaches on entrepreneurship and innovation.”
LebNet is committed to support these initiatives to enrich the Lebanese education sector with North American industry experience and help maintain Lebanon’s high standard of education.