King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and The University of Texas at Austin Form Academic Partnership

March 5, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and The University of Texas at Austin today announced a research and educational partnership in computational earth sciences and engineering.

Under the Academic Excellence Alliance (AEA), the universities will identify and nominate the founding KAUST faculty, establish joint research, and collaborate in the design of the academic curriculum.

The value of the agreement to The University of Texas at Austin is about $27 million. That includes $10 million for research collaborations at The University of Texas at Austin, $5 million for research collaborations at the KAUST campus, $10 million for fellowships for students and faculty participating in the project and about $2 million for operations.

This innovative approach to institutional collaboration and faculty selection will enable KAUST, a new international, graduate-level research university opening in Saudi Arabia in 2009, to build its academic foundation during the University's first several years of operation. The partnership will also expand The University of Texas at Austin's capacity to carry out basic research and develop innovations that can benefit the people and economy of Texas.

"KAUST's partnership with The University of Texas at Austin is based on the institution's reputation for world-class research and academic development," said Professor Choon Fong Shih, KAUST's president-designate. "This partnership will allow each institution's researchers and students to collaborate on solving many of the shared problems facing our world today."

"KAUST represents a bold new vision for international collaboration and scientific leadership, one that places emphasis on the applications of science and technology to problems of human need, economic development and social advancement," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "We are pleased to partner with KAUST to work toward these shared goals."

At Texas, the AEA will be hosted by the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES), which is directed by J. Tinsley Oden.

"By organizing around interdisciplinary research institutes, KAUST is very well-positioned to tackle regional and global problems that transcend the disciplinary boundaries," Oden said. "ICES shares this interdisciplinary vision, and is delighted to be partnering with KAUST to advance research and graduate education in modeling and simulation."

Omar Ghattas, professor of Geological Sciences and Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Computational Geosciences in ICES, will serve as director of the AEA partnership at The University of Texas at Austin.

"Many of the grand challenges facing our society involve the earth sciences, including climate change, water resources, environmental sustainability, clean energy, and natural hazard mitigation," Ghattas said. "Advanced computer modeling is required to best address these problems. We are excited about collaborating with KAUST to conduct forefront research on these and other problems in the earth sciences."

KAUST will partner with faculty from ICES, the Jackson School of Geosciences, the Cockrell School of Engineering, and the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin to:

  • Collaborate in the nomination of the initial group of KAUST faculty
  • Jointly organize and evaluate the graduate curriculum
  • Create and conduct joint research projects at UT Austin and at KAUST
  • Collaborate in defining the requirements for the M.E., M.S.E., and Ph.D. degrees at KAUST
  • Collaborate in joint thesis advisory committees for Ph.D. candidates at KAUST
  • Collaborate in joint programs to host visiting fellows, conduct seminars and participate in technical symposia
  • Collaborate on the design and acquisition of research equipment and facilities

"The University of Texas at Austin is one of the leading research institutions for computational earth sciences and engineering," said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, KAUST's interim president. "Its world-class faculty and longstanding reputation for academic development are a model for KAUST in developing the university's research capacity and intellectual capital."

By spring 2008, the AEA partners will have specified the KAUST core curriculum at a high level for prospective students and begun identifying the first group of KAUST founding faculty to deliver this curriculum to the entering class in September 2009.

About KAUST

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, across the region, and around the globe. As an independent, merit-based institution, KAUST will employ many of the best practices from leading research universities and enable top researchers from around the globe and across all cultures to work together to solve challenging scientific and technological issues. The KAUST global research and education network will support diverse talents, both on its campus and at other premier universities and research institutions, through collaborative research agreements, grants, and student scholarship programs. KAUST will be merit-based, open to men and women from all cultures around the world, and governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. The core campus, located on more than 36 million square meters on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is set to open in September 2009. For more information, visit KAUST.

About The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the world's leading comprehensive public research universities. Through its renowned educational and research programs and its commitment to community engagement, the university is an important contributor to the quality of life in Texas and the economic vitality of the state.

The University of Texas at Austin is Austin's largest employer and one of the largest in Texas. It is one of the largest single-campus universities in the nation, serving almost 50,000 students. University researchers annually generate almost $500 million in funding for their work.

For more information, contact: Tim Green, Office of the Vice President for Research; KAUST Saudi Arabia: Abdullah Al-Maghlooth, 966 50 587-5219, or KAUST United States: Jeff Weintraub, 1-202-828-8836.