The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and the Water CAMPWS at the University of Illinois have signed a three-year collaborative research agreement with the newly established King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Under the agreement, KAUST will provide $5 million in funds to be shared by researchers at both U of I and KAUST for research of mutual interest in the areas of environmental sciences and engineering and water desalination and reuse.
Founded through an endowment by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the university is being constructed on more than 14 square miles along the Red Sea at Thuwal, about 50 miles north of Saudi Arabia's second largest city, Jeddah. Admission is open to both men and women. KAUST’s vision is to be the premier institution for higher education in the Middle East, “dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in Saudi Arabia, the region and the world.”
“This project represents an ideal partnership between a world-class university, Illinois, and a new university built on an inspirational concept in research, KAUST, to address the world’s most challenging problem—clean and abundant water for life-sustenance,” said Amr Elnashai, CEE department head. “The Illinois team possesses the richness of research culture and state-of-the-art laboratories that will not only advance clean water research but also underpin capacity building in KAUST and Saudi Arabia.”
The agreement provides $3 million for collaborative research with CEE researchers in any area of environmental engineering and $2 million for research in water desalination and reuse with researchers from the Water CAMPWS, the Center of Advanced Materials for the Purification of Water with Systems, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center based in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering.
CEE Professor Charles J. Werth of the Environmental Engineering and Science (EE&S) group is serving as Principal Investigator (PI) for the collaborative agreement. Professor Benito J. Mariñas of CEE’s EE&S group and Mark A. Shannon, a Professor in Illinois’ Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering and director of the Water CAMPWS, are Co-Principal Investigators.
“The Middle East has a lot of challenging and unique environmental problems,” Werth said. “This agreement provides us with new resources and the opportunity to develop long-term collaborations in a strategic part of the world, where the challenges they face are the challenges we will face in the near future.
“We will become more familiar with, and we will better understand, the problems they face and their culture, so we can begin to address those problems in a sustainable way. Further, we have the unique opportunity to contribute to the development of a top-notch, open, and inclusive university.”
Photos, top to bottom: the KAUST campus, still under construction; Professor Charles J. Werth; Professor Benito J. Mariñas.