KAUST alumna wins ADIPEC Young Engineer of the Year Award

KAUST alumna Shamael Al-Shuhail (M.S. '15) won the prestigious Abu Dhabi International Exhibition & Conference Young Engineer of the Year Award in November 2018. Image courtesy of Shamael Al-Shuhail.

-By David Murphy, KAUST News

KAUST alumna Shamael Al-Shuhail won the prestigious Abu Dhabi International Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) Young Engineer of the Year Award at ADIPEC 2018 held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The event, which was hosted by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company from November 12 to 15, 2018, provided an opportunity for those in the oil and gas industry to come together to learn about new technologies, share information and to discuss the future of the hydrocarbon industry.

Al-Shuhail graduated from KAUST with a master's degree in electrical engineering in 2015. She won the award based on her ability to become a significant contributor to the future of the oil and gas industry and because of her potential to reach a senior management level in her profession.

"Winning the award is a great honor. The ADIPEC awards are among the most prestigious in the region, and just to be a finalist is a great honor," she said. "The awards open up many opportunities, and the Young ADIPEC Engineer of the Year award encourages us to reach our potential and to set higher goals for ourselves."

Early days in east Texas

Growing up in College Station in eastern Texas, the Saudi native was influenced to pursue her current career thanks to the abundance of fellow petroleum engineers and researchers living in the area.

"College Station is where my passion for engineering and research first started. This passion followed me during my move back to Saudi Arabia and up to this day. After completing high school, I decided on computer engineering as my university major [because of] its practicality [and its combination of] both math and physics, my two favorite subjects in high school," Al-Shuhail noted.

KAUST alumna Shamael Al-Shuhail is shown here winning the Abu Dhabi International Exhibition & Conference Young Engineer of the Year Award in late 2018. Image courtesy of Shamael Al-Shuhail.

Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University in 2013, Al-Shuhail saw KAUST as the ideal place to continue developing her technical research skills.

"I was accepted in the highly selective KAUST graduate scholarship program. There, I shifted my major to electrical engineering [and] more specifically signal processing. I wanted to widen my knowledge base so that it [would be] applicable to many industries—especially the oil and gas industry," she explained.

Pursuing a new and unconventional approach to multiphase metering

Al-Shuhail is currently working as a technology solutions architect at Saudi Aramco. There, her current research focuses on the use of compressive sensing—specifically in an oil and gas application capacity. Compressive sensing is used in the recovery of ultrasonic images of the production flow inside oil and gas wells. 

Al-Shuhail uses the ultrasonic images to retrieve the phase fraction of oil, gas and water. It is hoped that compressive sensing will improve the performance of this ultrasonic multiphase flow meter in which it will eventually replace the need for intrusive and radioactive multiphase flow meters.

"I have been researching a fairly new paradigm known as compressive sensing, which enables data optimization and energy efficiency," Al-Shuhail noted. "The novelty here is the adaptation of compressed sensing in oil production, which makes it a new and unconventional approach to multiphase metering."

KAUST alumna Shamael Al-Shuhail, who won the Abu Dhabi International Exhibition & Conference Young Engineer of the Year Award in late 2018, was the KAUST 2014 Commencement student speaker. She is shown here speaking at the Commencement event. File photo. 

Shamael's former KAUST supervisor Professor Tareq Al-Naffouri stated that Al-Shuhail's innovate research in compressive sensing highlights the caliber of research methods available to students at KAUST.

"Compressive sensing that Shamael used is a tool that she mastered at KAUST and her thesis was about the application of this tool to wireless communications," he said. "Shamael's application of this tool in oil production shows the relevance of the research we pursue here at KAUST to industry."

A 'dynamic and enriching journey'

Al-Shuhail looks back on her two years at KAUST with great fondness, describing her time at the University as a "dynamic and enriching journey."

"KAUST opened up many great opportunities for us in the industry. We were taught and advised by the elites in each research area. I remember mentioning in my Commencement 2014 student speaker address about how KAUST invested in all of us and helped us turn every opportunity into success," she said.

"This success is indeed evident from this prestigious industry recognition, the ADIPEC award," Al-Shuhail continued. "The knowledge I gained at KAUST is the seed to my current success in my research journey, which I'm very thankful for." 

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