Molecular biologist, Dr. Reham Helwa and Paleobotanist, Dr. Marwa W. Ibraheem (El-Faramawi), Associate Professors from Ain Shams University left their home country of Egypt in fall 2013 to immerse themselves into a seemingly unusual yet innovative assignment in the University of Houston College of Technology. However, their primary mission was to take what they experienced through our project management curricula and apply it to programs at their university in fulfillment of the collaborated USAID - Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research "Cairo Initiative" project that aims for developing Egyptian Universities.
Helwa and Ibraheem are attending UH until the end of the spring 2014 semester with plans to return to Cairo to transmit what they have learned through interactions with College of Technology faculty who teach courses tied to the project management curriculum. Upon their return home, they will use this knowledge for enhancements in their scientific initiatives and consulting projects.
So why have two scientists with such exceptional capabilities landed here? It was the reputation of the project management program in the College of Technology. "Project management training is available in Egypt but the scientific exchange with the cultural component is the most important part of our experience," said Dr. Ibraheem. "We knew that we wanted to learn more of the professional" tips and tricks" for better integration of the project management principles into our scientific projects. With the assistance of faculty, particularly Dr. Gary Richardson, Dr. Ron Hopkins, Dr. Jamie Kovach, Dr. Fatima Merchant, Dr. David Ding and Ronald Smith, we have gained valuable information about how to apply a management approach to our scientific work," they said.
Impressed by the increasingly popular reverse classroom concept, commonly referred to as the flipped classroom model, both valued the diverse techniques in education and plan to recommend the approach as a quality improvement measure.
"I plan to apply this "up-to-date" educational technique which was introduced in Dr. Jamie Kovach’s class where we received the theoretical course materials in advance of the class to prepare and develop questions. This interesting and efficient approach definitely would be great to use in teaching science giving more opportunity to brainstorming and open discussions," Ibraheem said.
The cultural and educational exchange of ideas and different life experiences inspired these scientists and brought along new perspectives. "During the classes, we enjoyed participating with other colleagues in exchanging our different practical experiences," they reflected.
Both expressed gratitude for the support and advising from Dr. Gary Richardson, Dr. Marcella Norwood, Dr. Barbara Stewart, and Dr. Raymond Cline. In addition, to the continuous follow up and support of Professor Mohamed H. El Borai (Cultural and Educational Counselor) and Dr. Mohamed Saleh (Cultural Attaché) at the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau in Washington. In addition to their appreciation for the generous help of several other University of Houston faculty and staff members, they expressed gratitude to Mr. A. Nabawi (Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau in Washington).
"Our new partnerships will continue upon our return to Cairo," said Dr.Helwa and Dr. Ibraheem.