Lebanese American University


Attracting top engineering students to LAU

LAU hosts its first annual Engineering Scholarship Competition on Beirut campus.


Nine stellar high school seniors were invited to LAU Byblos compete for scholarships.


The students were asked to build the most efficient and strongest bridge they could.


Second-place winner Marwa Saouaiby plans to major in mechanical engineering at LAU next year.


The SoE hopes to hold next year’s competition sometime between February and April in order to accommodate a larger group of students.

“The School of Engineering (2013-2018) strategic plan aims to increase the number of highly ranked students into the program to help advance even further our already very competitive program,” says Dr. Barbar Akle, LAU’s associate professor and assistant dean of the School of Engineering. It was in this spirit that the School of Engineering (SoE) Student Affairs committee held its very first Engineering Scholarship Competition on July 10.

Nine high school seniors, with SAT scores of over 1800 and high mathematics grades, were invited to LAU’s Byblos campus to compete for university scholarship awards. The event was an invaluable learning experience for the budding engineers as they benefited from interaction with faculty members, as well as the opportunity to embark on a challenging and stimulating series of competitions.

The students were asked to compete in a three-hour long balsa wood bridge competition where they are instructed to build the most efficient bridge they could, that was also able to hold the heaviest load without falling. “Beyond mere technical expertise, we also assess students on their creativity and communication skills,” explains Akle. According to some participants, the value of this competition was that it emphasized the importance of creative problem solving and the role of engineers in helping make a difference to society.

The second and final competition of the day was a computer programming challenge, where the students had to apply what they learned in a 30-minute lecture on programming in Java.

The admission office provided six scholarship awards for the winners. Three of them gave a 30 percent tuition discount and the remaining three gave a 25 percent tuition discount. “These awards are on top of whatever scholarships the students may already have and will cover the entire four years of university study as long as a GPA of 3.2 is maintained,” explains Akle.

For second-place winner Marwa Saouaiby, the event was both exciting and challenging. “It was an amazing experience and a really great introduction to the school of engineering,” she says. The highly talented student plans to major in mechanical engineering at LAU next year.

First-place prize went to Rayan Maalouf, who excelled in both the bridge and programming competitions. “The event was really fun and a new experience for me. The competition was very fierce,” he points out, adding, “I was really impressed by LAU’s high degree of organization and level of care for its students.”

According to Akle, while the competition was a success, next year the SoE hopes for an alternative schedule to the competition—anticipated sometime between February and April—in order to accommodate a larger group of students.


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