Syracuse University

Dubai Internship Provides Real-World Engineering Experience

For the third consecutive year, Raymond International Pipeline Services Group is providing an invaluable opportunity for students from Syracuse University’s L C Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS) to travel to the Persian/Arabian Gulf region to learn first-hand about a real-world issue impacting the Arabian Peninsula—the supply of potable water in arid regions. Raymond International Headquarters is in Bahrain and has offices in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and UK.

Drinking water in Arabian Peninsula countries is provided mostly through desalinating seawater. In the past 30 years, billions of dollars have been spent building new desalination plants in heh region. Desalination is both costly and a drain on the hydrocarbon energy resources that could otherwise be sold on international markets. The financial burden on governments is set to worsen as water consumption rises due to industrial development and population growth. As a result, some states are now considering ways in which demand can be brought under control.

Raymond International principal and LCS alumnus Mike Venutolo was a key sponsor of this internship program that will allow Louis Lafata, Richard Murray, Joseph DiStafano, Amanda Kullman, Corey Carpenter and Catherine Sobchuk to spend two weeks this summer examining the challenges and advances in solutions to the water supply problem.

Professor Sam Salem, the Yabroudi Chair Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is the SU faculty member who has coordinated the activities and developed the curriculum for the internship since its inception in 2011. Prior to departing for the internship, the students, who are selected through a competitive process overseen by LCS faculty, will participate in cultural preparation conducted by SU Abroad and Professors Sam Salem as well as Mehrzad Boroujerdi and Rania Habib of the Middle Eastern Studies Program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. That preparation will continue when they arrive in Dubai where they will spend the first part of their trip attending briefings and informational background lectures about the region, societal challenges and water production and transmission. 

They will then travel to Kuwait where they will meet other SU alumni in the region and visit a Raymond facility to spend more time in the field. This will include a desalination plant and steel pipe factory as well as corrosion coating and lining plants. The students will be shown state of the art water transmission systems being constructed in remote desert locations.

Last year’s interns had the opportunity to spend a few more days interacting with teachers and students at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). Syracuse University and KFUPM recently finalized plans for twelve KFUPM students to attend SU for a year starting in the fall of 2013. The time spent with KFUPM students and faculty gave the SU interns a first-hand perspective of the student life and higher educational system in this region of the world.

The value of the up-close and interactive internship provides for students is immeasurable. They gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the infrastructural scenarios detailed in textbooks and the role engineering plays in the solutions. The many unique learning opportunities for SU students, like the Raymond International Internship, are made possible through the generosity of alumni and their affiliated corporations. It is ongoing connections to SU by such alumni that allows the university to promote scholarship in action and to connect more tangibly with communities around the world.