Statement of Research

Since joining AUB in 1985, I have accumulated 33 years of academic experience [including 17 years of administrative experience as department Chair, Dean, Vice President, President, and Minister of the Ministry of Education & Higher Education (MEHE)]. I have been a full Professor for almost 22 years and selected by AUB to carry out full-time executive management tasks for over 14 years. Despite my appointment to senior administrative positions since 2004, including my appointment as Minister, my interest in research has not waned. Indeed, during that period, I published 47 papers including 14 refereed journal papers, 4 books 5 book chapters, and 23 refereed conference papers. I am particularly proud of the following book, which I co-edited: H. Diab, & A.Y. Zomaya, (Eds.), Dependable Computing Systems: Paradigms, Performance Issues, and Applications, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, 2005. Furthermore, since my 7-year contract appointment starting in 2011, I have had 24 publications, including 9 refereed journal papers, 4 authored books, 3 book chapters, and 7 refereed conference papers. As my research was well-received by graduate students as well as the public and private sectors, I got to supervise or co-supervise 30 Masters Theses; secure 26 competitive research grants from AUB and the National Council for Scientific Research, Lebanon, in addition to grants from Microsoft Research and CIES in the US (see p. 89 in CV).

My passion for research started in my Ph.D. days (1982-1985). My thesis entailed the design of a new multicomputer parallel processing architecture to implement the visual systems of a flight training simulator in real-time at a much lower cost than existing commercial systems at the time. In fact, my work culminated with a state-of-the-art parallel processing system based on the Motorola MC68000 CPU which was successfully marketed by the University of Bath, UK (my Alma Mater), under the trade name DARKSTAR.

From there on, I embarked on a range of research topics in high performance computing including parallel and distributed algorithms and architectures, real-time systems and applications, as well as reconfigurable computing (RC). More specifically, my research studies focused on: (1) Performance evaluation of parallel processing systems and parallel applications, (2) High performance RC for cryptographic algorithms (CAs), (3) Performance analysis of reconfigurable architectures (RAs), and (4) System simulation using fuzzy logic control. Moreover, being an educator for over three decades, research in the field of education was always of interest to me, an interest that intensified after serving as Minister of MEHE (2011-2013). My research areas in education include: Application of simulation to engineering education and educational development, and Global issues in education.

My current research is mainly on curricula development, teacher professional development, and educational planning with governments and educational institutions in many of the MENA region countries. My future research plans include pursuing research areas, namely global issues in education, ICT and entrepreneurship in education. However, I will be concentrating more on the ICT and entrepreneurship in education and more particularly on intercultural-based learning.

What follows is a brief description of my research areas. One of them address RC architectures, as RC has received considerable interest in both its forms: the FPGA and coarse-grain hardware. An RC system is one that can be reconfigured during run time to efficiently execute an algorithm as a hardware circuit. Reconfigurable systems stand halfway between traditional computing systems and Application-specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). In this research, I perform hardware analysis and evaluation of certain key applications on target RAs to identify potential limitations and improvements. Indeed, with today’s high demand for secure data transfer mediums including wired and wireless networks, there is growing demand for real-time implementation of CAs. Below are samples of my publications in each of the above research areas, which fall into two research categories: computer engineering and education.

Computer Engineering

The work I carried out in this research area includes, as shown below, the following sub-specialization areas, namely, reconfigurable computing, parallel processing and parallel applications, dependable computing systems, and system simulation using fuzzy logic control.

  • High performance reconfigurable computing for cryptographic algorithms

This research explores parallelization of applications in the field of cryptography on parallel architectures. Data security plays a central role in the design of future IT systems, and cryptographic engines realized on parallel architectures are necessary for protecting these systems. The marriage of RC and cryptography exploits the potential advantages of implementing CAs on RC systems including algorithm agility, algorithm upload, architecture efficiency, resource efficiency, algorithm modification, throughput, and cost. The goal of this research is to gain insight of the potential that some parallel architectures offer for CAs. Here is a sample of publications resulting from this research so far. Please refer to the following publications in my CV.

  • Under “Book Chapters” on page 76: Items 3 & 4.
  • Under “Refereed Journals” on page 77: Items 5, 8, & 12.
  • Performance analysis of reconfigurable computer architectures

Processors vary from ASICs designed to perform specific predefined operations, to General-Purpose Processors (GPPs) designed to perform a wide range of applications. ASICs make use of the inherent quality of a certain application’s algorithm to provide very high performance. On the other hand, GPPs are designed to execute any application. With that, comes the need for a system that combines the high performance of ASICs and the flexibility of GPPs. This has led to the introduction of RC that employs both reconfigurable hardware and programmable processors. RC allows the user to configure the hardware through software by defining the hardware resources needed for a certain application. In this research area, I investigate the mapping of new applications on RC architectures, which involves tuning the algorithm, pertaining to the application, to the hardware. The driving force of the above is to optimize the execution performance. Please refer to the following publications in my CV.

  • Under “Refereed Journals” on page 77: Items 13 & 14.
  • Under “Refereed Papers in Conference Proceedings” on pages 80-81: Items 5, 10, 11, 12, & 13.
  • Performance evaluation of parallel processing systems and parallel applications

In either sequential or parallel systems, the architecture is characterized by functional components, the communication topology and facilities, as well as control structures and mechanisms. However, there are several issues related to parallelization that do not arise in sequential programming. One of the most important issues is task allocation; that is, the breakdown of the total workload into smaller tasks assigned to different processors, and the optimal sequencing of the tasks when some of them are interdependent and cannot be executed simultaneously. To achieve the highest level of performance, it is important to ensure that each processor is efficiently utilized. This process is called load balancing or scheduling and it is considered to be extremely challenging to solve. My aim in this research is to develop efficient techniques for mapping and scheduling of parallel tasks onto modular parallel architectures. Please refer to the following publications in my CV.

  • Under “Refereed Journals” on page 78: Items 17, 19, 25, & 26.
  • Under “Refereed Papers in Conference Proceedings” on pages 81 & 84: Items 14 & 46.
  • Dependable computing systems

This research area involves the specification, design, and assessment of dependable computer systems. The proliferation of complex problems in science and engineering increases the demand for a better understanding of highly dependable and available computing paradigms and their application. A sample publication resulting from this research is the following book, one of the first in the area.

  • Diab, and A.Y. Zomaya, (Eds.), DEPENDABLE COMPUTING SYSTEMS: Paradigms, Performance Issues, and Applications, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, 2005, (638 pages).
  • System simulation using fuzzy logic control

Performance is one of the key factors that needs to be taken into account in the design, development, configuration, and tuning of a computer system. Hence, the quantitative evaluation of a Computer System Performance (CSP) is needed during the entire life cycle of a computer system. The methods that have been used can be divided into three main areas, namely, performance measurement, analytic performance modeling, and simulation performance modeling. These methods have been applied across the entire spectrum of computer systems. My research work introduces fuzzy logic methodology as an alternative CSP modeling technique. This novel and unique methodology has been successfully used in specific CSP application areas including performance evaluation of cache memory and of the arbiters used for multiple-bus multiprocessor systems. Please refer to the following publications in my CV.

  • Under “Refereed Journals” on pages 77-78: Items 1, 10, 16, & 18.
  • Under “Refereed Papers in Conference Proceedings” on pages 81 & 84: Items 8, 39, & 40.

Education

The work I carried out in this research area includes the following sub-specialization areas, namely, application of simulation to engineering education, and global issues in education and higher education in the MENA region. The first area is work I started in my early research days.

  • Application of simulation to engineering education and educational development

This research area is intended to promote effective instruction and pursue academic excellence through the use of simulators to improve students’ learning and performance. The practical implications of using simulators in the field of engineering education are immense. My work in this area resulted in the development of teaching tools that were made available to students in the corresponding courses which proved very useful in enhancing learning.

  • Under “Refereed Journals” on pages 77-80: Items 15, 22, 27, 32, & 43.
  • Under “Refereed Papers in Conference Proceedings” on page 84: Items 43 & 44.

The relevance of the below research area and my growing interest in it emanates from my involvement since 2004 in administrative roles in higher education within the MENA region, which provided me with an in-depth insight regarding the many factors that influence the quality of higher education programs and systems.

  • Global issues in education and higher education in the MENA region

My research in this area not only stems from the early days of my research years in the application of simulation to engineering education but also in a more concentrated manner after my appointment as Minister of Education and Higher Education. The research I carried out investigated relationships in different fields of higher education. I have researched a number of areas in education and have used active learning and  and constructivism as the conceptual framework for my research. My current research focuses primarily on knowledge sharing processes in educational institutions and on the impact of using ICT in classrooms at school and university. More importantly, I have conducted research on curriculum reform at the school and university levels.  I have been also interested in developing methods to assess knowledge sharing and its effects on examining interventions designed to improve different teaching/learning processes. My research is also grounded in the processes of communication, coordination and knowledge-sharing which are of utmost importance. My current research is mainly on curriculum development, teacher professional development, and educational planning with governments and educational institutions in many of the MENA region countries. Please refer to the following publications in my CV.

  • Under “Authored Books” on page 75: Item 1 is a published book on Human Rights Education.
  • Under “Book Chapters” on page 76: Items 1 & 2.
  • Under “Refereed Journals” on pages 76-77: Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, & 7.

A summary of my research accomplishments include around 150 publications comprising seven books (four authored and three edited), four book chapters, around 50 papers in refereed journals, papers in international conference proceedings, and other publications (see section XIV, pp. 73-88 in my CV). My research was published in some of the top journals in the field, such as IEEE Transactions on Computers; IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics; IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science; IEEE Transactions on Education; IEE Proceedings on Physical Science, Measurement and Education; Journal of Supercomputing; Advances in Engineering Software; Journal of Parallel Algorithms and Applications; and the Journal of Intelligent and Fuzzy System.

Despite the fact that over the past 15 years my heavy involvement in various executive management roles has significantly affected my research portfolio, Google Scholar shows that my h-index is 10, i10-index is 10, and my work has been cited in over 400 papers, with an average of over 6 citations per paper. Moreover, peer researchers have cited my publications around 600 times according to Scopus and Google Scholar. However, there are many undetected citations such as those of my 2005 co-edited book that sometimes cite one of the book’s 22 chapters without citing the book itself which is entitled “Dependable Computing Systems: Paradigms, Performance Issues, and Applications” published by Wiley. This was one of the first books published at the time in the research area. Additionally, other research engines such as “Research Gate” (RG) indicates that my publications have around 4,000 “reads”. This includes over 100 reads of a paper that was recently published in Curriculum Journal, 1-17, February 2018, titled “A Call for Curriculum Reform to Combat Refugees Crisis:  The Case of Lebanon,” based on the work I did as Minister of Education and Higher Education; as well as over 350 citations, many of which do not appear as captured citations in Google Scholar. My RG score is over 23.6 (around 80th percentile of RG members which includes most MSFEA faculty).

Moreover, my research accomplishments have allowed me to compete for and receive local, regional, and international research awards and prizes. On the local level, I have won the AUB Research award in Engineering (1990), and the 1st Prize in the Software category at the 4th Conference and Exhibition for Lebanese Industrial Research Achievements (2000). At the regional level, I received the very competitive Young Arab Scientists Shuman Prize in Engineering (1993). It is worth noting here that Lebanon was in a state of civil war when I joined AUB back in 1985, that the aftermath of the war lingered until late 1990s, and that AUB and the Lebanese government were the main, if not the only, sources of research funding for AUB faculty with an average research grant of less than $5,000 per year.

On the international level, I won the Fulbright research award (1988), the German DAAD research scholarship twice (1999 & 2002), the “Microsoft Research Innovation Excellence Award for Embedded Systems” (2003), research scholarships, two fellowships and a senior membership (IEEE), as well as academic distinctions during my M.Sc. and B.Sc. studies. In total, I have received 25 national, regional, and international awards and scholarships including prizes, recognitions by national and international professional organizations (see section V, pp. 25-28 in my CV).

In light of my rich research portfolio, I have been invited to give many academic keynote addresses, and presentations and to participate in other professional activities (see section VIII, pp. 46-60 in my CV), in addition to over 200 keynote speeches, special occasion speeches, press conferences, and interviews I gave during my term as Minister of Education and Higher Education over the period of June 2011 – June 2013. Among the 26 keynote addresses shown on page 4 of my CV are three I am very proud of, namely: “Promoting human rights through education”, “The role of MENA region universities in creating leaders: Liberal Arts Higher Education Model”, and “The Future of Higher Education in the Middle East”.

Over the past three decades, I have reviewed over 350 papers for more than 16 journals, many considered top in the field, as well as papers for over 40 international conferences. I have also acted as an external referee for many promotion applications to the ranks of Associate Professor and Professor as well as reviewer of research proposals submitted to research organizations such as the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research and the Franco-Lebanese Cooperative Program for the Evaluation and Development of Research, and am currently an external reviewer for the Omani Accreditation Council.

Equally relevant, if not more, to a researcher’s citation record at the global level, is the impact he/she had during his/her professional career, specifically at the national and regional levels, especially that AUB leadership has been stressing for decades the essential role of AUB’s impact on Lebanon and the region. My professional career at AUB, since joining in 1985, has been very impactful, illustrated in what follows:

  • When I joined AUB back in 1985, I had a Bachelor degree in communications engineering and a PhD in computer engineering. Accordingly, I played a pivotal role in launching the Computer & Communications Engineering (CCE) program at FEA. Since its launching in 1986, the CCE program has been one of the most sought at AUB in terms of the number of applicants. Furthermore, since then, the CCE program was cloned by dozens of universities in the region.
  • It is also important to consider the number of graduates a faculty member has played a role in their empowerment to assume leadership positions who in turn play a pivotal role in impacting the region as change agents that our region is in dire need of. The majority of the CCE graduates that I taught have assumed CXX positions (CEO, COO, CTO, CIO, etc.) in the region and beyond.
  • When I was seconded by AUB in 2004 as Founding President of Dhofar University (DU) in Oman, I played a pivotal role in the multi-year work that led to DU becoming the first private university in Oman to receive the initial phase of institutional accreditation. Moreover, as Chair of DU’s research board, I secured an annual research grant budget of around $1M. All of this in the name of AUB which significantly increased AUB’s visibility in Oman and the GCC.
  • I played a major role in allowing AUB to be impactful in the region through the successful implementation of hundreds of REP projects since assuming the position of VP for REP in 2006. REP’s annual projects portfolio increased from around 20 projects in 10 countries in 2006 to 80 projects in 20 countries with an average annual face value of over $12 million during my term as VP. Needless to say, AUB through institutional REP projects has impacted the higher education map in the GCC and the region by establishing or assisting over 40 universities in 15 countries.
  • I was the only AUB professor and senior administrator in the history of AUB to become Minister of MEHE (2011-2014) and one of the rare technocrat ministers in Lebanon since its independence. Needless to say, this represents a source of pride for AUB, as was attested by AUB’s Board Chair when I was appointed. My achievements at MEHE (some for the first time in Lebanon) are recorded in my book. This includes what was recorded in the 2013 World Economic Forum report which gave Lebanon the following ranking in HE out of 144 countries: (i) Quality of Schools of Business ranked 13th, (ii) Quality of Education ranked 10th, and (iii) Quality of teaching Math & Science ranked 4th only preceded by Singapore, Finland, and Belgium.

Finally, my future research plans include pursuing both research areas, namely high performance computing as well as global issues in education. However, I will be concentrating more on the latter with focus on ICT and entrepreneurship in education and more particularly on intercultural-based learning. My journey with democratic, intercultural-based learning began years ago when I participated in and conducted many classes and workshops on Cooperative Learning (CL) approaches. I quickly perceived in CL a potentially effective approach for the development of proficiency in my classes. CL also appealed to my commitment to democratic education, peace, social justice, civic responsibility, and equal opportunities for success and participation of all leaners.

I have been implementing a systematic and sustained series of research studies that revealed the relative superiority of democratic, intercultural-based learning and CL in developing the cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of instruction, including acquisition of skills and motivation for learning, decreasing school alienation, and enhancing academic self-esteem. The CL methods that  I keep encouraging my team to implement range from the Structural Approach to the Together Model, including the Group Investigation Method and the Student Team Learning Model. I have been also proposing a democratic, intercultural-based learning and CL-based theoretical approach for teacher professional development (Diab & Awada, 2016; Awada, Diab & Faour, 2017; Diab & Awada 2018 in CV) and have devised a curriculum framework for the integration of peace education into instruction (Awada & Diab, 2017 in CV), and assessment (Diab & Awada 2018 in CV). Likewise, I have been studying the challenges that hinder the use of CL and democratic, intercultural-based learning in different disciplines despite its proven methods and theoretical relevance (e,g., Awada, Diab & Faour, 2017; and Awada, Diab & Faour, 2018 in CV).

The findings of my research are disseminated widely and are broadly cited. Specifically, my findings helped very much the theoretical and practical relevance of democratic, intercultural-based learning in teaching and learning in different disciplines as well as establish its efficacy as a proven instructional approach in the Lebanese context and in similar multilingual contexts characterized by competitive teaching and lack of social interaction in the target language of English. This facilitated my efforts to introduce democratic, intercultural-based learning as an instructional framework in the educational systems of numerous countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

I conducted studies in Lebanon to utilize the practices of some countries, such as Scotland and Australia, in integrating HRE into the school subjects. Scotland and Australia in collaboration with the UN have endeavored to adopt Education for Democratic Citizenship and HRE as main features of education reform and development (Kerr and Losito, 2010). Lebanon, which adopts democracy and plurality, needs to benefit from HRE experiences of Scotland and Australia which also encompass plural societies. Hence, in an attempt to benefit from the HRE experience in Scotland and Australia, I modified the BEMIS survey to fit into the Lebanese context. My policies are also based on the assumption that employing the whole-school approach and the transformative model could transform the Lebanese curricula and textbooks in a way that could build a culture of peace, tolerance, democracy, and citizenship. The whole-school approach focuses on integrating HRE into the curricula and teaching materials that could help teachers incorporate human rights subjects into their teaching practices. Teacher training should also incorporate human rights values. The role of HRE in supporting democracy was also emphasized in changing citizenship, democracy and participation in education. Learning for cosmopolitan citizenship makes young citizens able to identify common culture and experiences needed to function effectively in settings of cultural diversity and change. I focused on the obligations of young people rather than their rights.

Being a Minister of Education and Higher Education, I designed and implemented policies that affected Lebanon’s school education system  which includes 1,300 public schools, 300 private free schools, and 1,300 private schools. I set plans for schooling and curricula development, which call for the integration of HRE into the curricula. I also elicited data to investigate teachers’ and educators’ perceptions of developing a new curricula integrating HRE into most school subjects; my research is the only research that intended to shed light on the HRE good practices that have been implemented to provoke suggestions on what should be done in Lebanon to ensure having similar good HRE practices needed to address the tremendous Syrian influx into Lebanon. My research is also significant for being the only research highlighting the Lebanese strategic plans launched in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 as well as the decrees that were issued to ensure HRE practices in Lebanon.