Biography

I received my B.Sc. (with Honors) in Communications Engineering from Leeds Metropolitan University, U.K., in 1981, my M.Sc. (with Distinction) in Systems Engineering from the University of Surrey, U.K., in 1982, and my Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Bath, U.K., in 1985. I am a registered Chartered Engineer in the Engineering Council, UK, and a registered Chartered Professional Engineer in the National Professional Engineers Register, Australia. I am a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA), American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon with over 34 years of professional experience including 15 years of executive administration with almost three years as Minister.

With over 150 publications in internationally refereed journals and conferences, I have supervised/co-supervised around 80 research projects, including 30 Masters Theses, 3 graduate-level research Special Projects and 45 senior undergraduate projects. I also led close to 30 research projects sponsored through local and international grants. My research interests include cryptography on high performance computer systems, modeling and simulation of parallel processing systems, embedded systems, reconfigurable computing, simulation of parallel applications, system simulation using fuzzy logic control, as well as the application of simulation for engineering education. More recently, my research interests, especially after serving as Minister of Education and Higher Education, also included higher education in the MENA region as well as global issues in education.

I chaired the First as well as the Second LAAS International Conference on Computer Simulation held at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon during September 1995 and 1997 respectively. I was also the Program Committee Vice-Chair of the ACS/IEEE International Conference on Computer Systems and Applications, held in Tunisia during July 2003, the Program Committee Co-Chair of the ACS/IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Services, held at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon during July 2004, and the Track Chair on Vocational and Tertiary Education, of the Microsoft in Education Global Forum, held at Dubai, UAE on February 23, 2015. Since 1994, I served as member on over 50 organizing committees of international conferences. I also refereed over 300 papers for over 55 different international journals and conferences as well as acting as an external referee for many promotion applications and research proposals.

I am an external reviewer for the Oman Accreditation Council charged with assisting in the development of the Omani higher education sector through institutional quality audits and accreditation processes. In addition to serving on the advisory/editorial board of three journals, I served as the Associate Editor (2001-2005) of the SIMULATION Journal, Transactions of The Society for Modeling and Simulation International, USA, and as the Associate Editor (2008-2010) of the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation. During June 2005 – September 2006, I was a member of the Scientific Research Council of the Sultanate of Oman. Moreover, I received over 20 international and regional awards including the Fulbright research award (1988), and the 1992 Young Arab Scientists Shuman prize in Engineering. Additionally, I am a Founding Member of the first Arab Computer Society established in 2001 as well as the Founding Member of the IEEE Student Branch at AUB in 1997. Furthermore, I am a Fellow in the IET (UK) and the IEAust (Australia), as well as a Senior Member of the IEEE (USA). I am also an honorary member of the Advisory Board in several international biographical organizations and have received over 80 invited international honors including Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering.

I served as the Chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (600 students) at the American University of Beirut during 1998-2001. During 1986 – 2004, I served on 76 committees inside (37) and outside (39) AUB including Task-Team-1 (Mission, Goals, & objectives) of the accreditation team for AUB institutional accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS) as well as co-chair of the re-accreditation Working Group #7 (General Education and Related Educational Activities) Committee which was part of the reaccreditation team. Furthermore, I was seconded by AUB to serve as Founding President of Dhofar University (DU) and Founding Dean of the College of Engineering at DU, Salalah, Oman (August 2004 – September 2006). I was a member of the Board of Trustees of Dhofar University during 2004-2013. Effective October 2006, I was appointed as Vice President for Regional External Programs (REP) at AUB.

On June 13, 2011, I was appointed as Minister of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) in the Lebanese Cabinet to take over the largest ministry in Lebanon. MEHE is composed of major directorates and offices including Directorate of Education, Directorate of Higher Education, Directorate of Vocational and Technical Education (VTE), Directorate of Central Administration, Education Center for Research & Development, Education Sector Development Secretariat, etc. MEHE included around 60,000 employees across the country and controls or oversees around 3,000 schools, 50 higher education institutions, and 450 VTE institutes in both the public and private sectors culminating in over 1.3 million students.

During 2011-2013, an unprecedented number of accomplishments in MEHE were achieved, many of which for the first time in the history of MEHE. All these achievements have been recorded in the book (written in Arabic) entitled: “Towards Modernization: Rescue Plan, Projects and Achievements of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education 2011-2013”. This included for the first time in the history of Lebanon the following: producing an ICT in Education Strategic Plan (pp, 369-378), a new law for K-9 compulsory education (p 498) and free textbooks (pp. 475-476), compulsory community service to high school students culminating in 1 million hours of community service per year, major progress in vocational and technical education (pp. 596-600), and an award that the Government of Lebanon was the winner of the GSMA 2014 Connected Government Award which was the result of the Lebanese Ministries of Telecommunications and Education & Higher Education actively encouraging the innovative use of mobile technologies that deliver long-term and sustainable socio-economic benefit and wellbeing for their citizens.

Furthermore, a new higher education law was passed to replace a 40-year old one (pp. 652-666), and saving of LL billions through several ministerial decisions (pp. 470-471). Additionally, after almost two and half years of reform in higher education (HE) during his term, the 2013 World Economic Forum report gave Lebanon the following ranking (the best during the period 2010 – 2017) in HE out of 144 countries: (i) Quality of Schools of Business ranked 13th (regressed to 17th in 2015), (ii) Quality of Education ranked 10th (slipped back to 28th in 2015), and (iii) Quality of teaching Math & Science ranked 4th only preceded by Singapore, Finland, and Belgium.

I made valuable contributions to the research on Human Rights Education (HRE) in context of the work of the United Nations (UN) on HRE and how countries are attempting to focus on building a culture of human rights within their societies. It is particularly important that I conducted a study situated in Lebanon at a time when the Middle East and indeed the entire world are facing the biggest refugees’ crisis since World War II and many of these refugees are now transiting through Lebanon seeking refuge in Europe and beyond. The inability of the Lebanese to accept the diversity and plurality of the Lebanese society resulted in the outbreak of civil war (1975-1990) which ended by virtue of the Taif accord which called for adopting a new curricula integrating HRE in one school subject, namely civics. However, I believe that in light of what Lebanon has been facing over the past decade, there is a new need for curricula reform to integrate HRE in the Lebanese school system.

Finally, in addition to around 30 academic keynote speeches I presented over the past 15 years, I also delivered over 200 keynote speeches and interviews during my term as Minister of Education and Higher Education (June 2011 – February 2014).