Can you tell us a little about your personal and professional background?
I'm originally Egyptian, but was born and raised in Kuwait. I'm a happily married father of three TKS Sharks. I lived in Egypt for five years during which I completed my undergraduate degree from Alexandria University, then moved to College Station, TX to complete my graduate studies at Texas A&M. Although the scale is quite different, College Station (~50,000 university students) and KAUST have a lot in common. Both are college towns with young energetic students everywhere, and getting around on a bike or using the campus bus service is very common and convenient. In Texas I worked at one of the Schlumberger Technology Centers for about seven years. My role revolved around designing electronics and electromechanical systems for oil field tools, mainly in the wireline segment. At the technology center, the engineering teams would bring research ideas to reality based on market and business needs. I then transitioned to academia and joined my alma mater before joining KAUST.
How is your work related to the research done at ANPERC?
My research spans the broad area of power conversion and mechatronic systems. We aim to intelligently merge electronics/mechanics/computing/control disciplines to develop novel devices and software to serve numerous applications. Over the past years, my research focused on serving the electric grid and the oilfield, and my team at KAUST will continue to pursue these two very important sectors. We aim to develop technologies to serve the smart grids of future ambitious renewables powered cities such as NEOM. At ANPERC, our goal is to direct our research towards challenges in the oil and gas industry. Specifically, we will be working on technologies aiming to reduce drilling costs, improving our understanding of wellbore integrity, and enabling 100% wireline conveyance.
You were a visiting professor at KAUST back in 2010. Was it always your plan to come back?
I was what they called a "gap" instructor back in the early days of KAUST. I was flying in every week for a whole semester to teach a course. Although it was quite hectic, I truly did enjoy the experience. While I really didn't think of moving to KAUST back then, a few years later when ANPERC was created, I did. At that time I was happy to see some of the students I taught in 2010 working for Aramco, or founding their own companies, and I felt that I can contribute positively to such an eco-system. When ANPERC was created, I got in touch with Tad and Carlos, initially to pitch a collaboration with my startup, Modus, but that quickly resulted in more meetings and a discussion with CEMSE about joining KAUST as a faculty and working to build a bridge with ANPERC.
How are you settling in to KAUST?
Well, I thought hitting the ground at brisk walking pace would suffice, but I guess I should have planned to hit the ground running! At least that's what I feel I'm doing now. My first two students have arrived, a few more team members are in the pipe, I'm setting up the lab, preparing next semester's class, and am working on multiple proposals with a number of colleagues. So, I've been sort of hiding down here in the basement getting things done, but please come by for a coffee sometime.