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LAU automotive engineering day attracts international companies and agencies

Professionals from academia, government, industry and development agencies gathered at LAU for a day of discussion and demonstrations to address sustainability in transportation.

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One hundred students and professionals from industry, academia, government and development agencies gathered at LAU to discuss sustainable transportation.

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Porsche engineers give a demonstration.

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The full day event included panel discussions about vision and policy in Europe and Lebanon.

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Minister for energy Cesar Abi Khalil spoke about sustainable transportation in Lebanon.

The LAU American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) chapter held its second Automotive Engineering Day event at the university’s Byblos campus this semester, inviting 100 students to learn about Sustainable Transportation in Developing Countries. The event was organized in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Sustainable Oil and Gas Development in Lebanon (SODEL) project, and the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water (MOEW).

“We had to cap the number at one hundred, so that the attendees could fully engage with and benefit from the manufacturer demonstrations,” said fourth year mechanical engineering student and ASME LAU board member Houssam Halaby. Interest in automotive engineering, added Halaby, has steadily increased since Assistant Professor Charbel Mansour joined LAU’s School of Engineering’s Department of Industrial and Mechanical Engineering soon after his return to Lebanon in 2012, having gained his Ph.D. in Energy from Mines ParisTech in 2009.

“Porsche and Toyota Lebanon focused on a different aspect of sustainability,” said Mansour of the workshops. “Toyota brought their hybrid Prius model and talked the students through the different technologies they used to improve consumption, while Porsche introduced the advantages of using lightweight materials and showcased their transmissions and gearbox, explaining their impact on improving performance while reducing the consumption.”

Preceding the afternoon workshops was a morning of discussion about the role and impact of technology, policy, infrastructure and the environment on sustainable practice in the automotive industry. Speakers from Toyota Motor Europe, Tractebel Engine Group, Vedecom Institute, UN agencies, the Lebanese Ministries of Energy and Water, and of Environment, came together to discuss with LAU faculty and students the current European vision and practice for sustainability and consider ways they could be adopted and adapted in Lebanon.

“The Minister of Energy and Water, Cesar Abi Khalil, gave a presentation about his ministry’s activities in terms of sustainable transportation in Lebanon and we discussed ways of adapting or improving the European vision to the local context,” recalls Mansour. “However, we need to keep in mind that Lebanon is still developing in this field, so it is very challenging to consider electrified vehicles as an implementable solution in the short term, and appropriate immediate actions have to be taken as of today.”

Mansour and fellow co-organizer of the event Assistant Professor Marc Haddad, a transportation systems specialist, recently completed a study on the potential use of alternative fuel-vehicle technologies in Lebanon. The study was undertaken in partnership with the UNDP, the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Lebanese Petroleum Administration within the context of the SODEL project, and its findings were presented during the automotive engineering day event.

“The event and all the presentations were highly valuable in highlighting the role we, as students in this sector, have in terms of sustainable mobility,” said mechanical engineering student Serge el Khoury, who will be focusing on automotive engineering in his final year project before pursuing a master’s degree in the subject. “In fact, it has an impact on society in general. It not only benefitted our students, but others as well and our own society on a larger scale,” added el Khoury, noting that attendees included students from AUB, NDU, University of Balamand, Rafic Hariri University and the Lebanese University.


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