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Heritage Month: Arab Americans as Engineers

posted on: Apr 11, 2016


BY: Husayn Hosoda/Contributing Writer

Like many professional fields, Arab Americans have participated and excelled in the engineering field. Arab Americans in engineering play a particularly important role in keeping society safe, improving the standard of living, and serving the public interest. Engineers are highly regarded for their ethics standards and honesty, making them valuable members of the Arab American community.

One celebrated engineer is Lebanese born Charles Elachi who serves as Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Elachi has a doctorate in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology where he now acts as vice president and professor of electrical engineering and planetary science. He has done research and development work on NASA sponsored projects, such as the Shuttle Imaging Radar Series, the Magellan imaging radar on Venus, and the Cassini Huygens Titan radar. He has authored over 230 publications on active microwave remote sensing and electromagnetic theory, and has sat on a number of prestigious committees for NASA, MIT, and UCLA.

Another prominent contributor to the field of engineering is Fawwaz T. Ulaby who is the Emmett Leith Distinguished University Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Dr. Ulaby was born in Damascus and attended the American University in Beirut before receiving his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He has given expert testimony to the House Science Committee of the US Congress and served on the board of directors of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.

Arab American engineers all over the country are working diligently to improve lives and maintain a respected code of conduct. Arab American engineers are part of a well-connected society called The National Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects, founded in 1996, that serves as a platform for conduct, job opportunities, scholarships, and much more. With more Arab American women entering the field – such as Elham Shayota, President of Sigma Associates in Michigan, or Nada Kiblawi, Founder of NHK Consulting in Virginia – the group continues to grow every year.

The AAAEA has nine chapters across the country and provides resources and networking opportunities for students, professional engineers, architects and computer scientists. It is networks like these that give Arab Americans the opportunity to be among the most revered and contributing members of American society.

See all articles about National Arab American Heritage Month here.