Sixth Convocation Welcomes Students to KAUST

KAUST welcomed 250 new master’s degree and Ph.D. students to the start of the academic year at the sixth annual Convocation on August 25.

James Calvin, Vice President of Academic Affairs and the first speaker at the event, said the start of the new semester is “truly one of the best times of the year,” bringing with it to campus “new energy, new ideas and a fresh view of the world.”

Each year, Calvin continued, the KAUST community is enriched by new students coming to the University from all over the world “for one purpose—to advance science and technology.” Every individual adds to KAUST’s “international DNA,” he said, “[making] us distinctive, and it is fundamental to our success as a global research university.”

Calvin advised the new students to remember they are now part of a unique, international environment where they will work with scientists and engineers “equally committed to making a difference and doing things that matter” for Saudi Arabia and the world.

Student speaker Maha Khalil, a Ph.D. student in the Red Sea Research Center who completed her master’s degree at KAUST, said her five years studying at the University have given her the ability to “do good science and communicate it,” but added that her most valuable lessons have not been academic ones. Instead, they are “life lessons learned from personal experiences and relationships with countless wonderful people” at KAUST.

She advised the new students to enjoy the many opportunities KAUST provides, and to look at every experience at the University “as a gift—an opportunity to grow and learn something new about the world and yourself.” Director of KAUST’s Visual Computing Center Wolfgang Heidrich, the event’s final speaker, told the students about the five main components it takes to be successful in graduate school.

“You must explore…find your passion…aim high…work hard…and manage your time. You are in an envious position at KAUST,” he said, because the University provides a unique research environment where curiosity-driven and goal-oriented research co-exist.

In such an environment and through developing those strong skills, he continued, the students will not only succeed, but will experience personal growth, learn much and enjoy their time at the University.

-By Caitlin Clark, KAUST News.