Two CSE faculty help make the Ibn Sina School for computer science a reality

Prof. Karem Sakallah with students and faculty from Ibn Sina School Enlarge
Prof. Karem Sakallah with students and faculty from Ibn Sina School

CSE Associate Chair and Professor Karem Sakallah and Professor Michael Wellman are participating in the launch of the Ibn Sina School for Computer Science, a new initiative which aims to prepare undergraduate students in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for successful careers in computer science research. The School is offering its academic program at several locations throughout the MENA region in partnership with local academic host institutions, and was launched at Birzeit University in the West Bank of Palestine.

Karem Sakallah Enlarge
Prof. Karem Sakallah
Michael Wellman Enlarge
Prof. Michael Wellman

The School is structured as three summer sessions, called Ibn Sina Sessions, that interleave with and provide a backbone to undergraduate education. It also includes continuity projects that take place between summer sessions and provide the students the opportunity to be closely mentored by leaders in the field.

Prof. Sakallah joined with three other scholars from institutions in France, Sweden, and Switzerland to teach at the inaugural session for the School in the Summer of 2012, which was dedicated to the foundations of computer science. Prof. Sakallah taught Discrete Math, and other faculty taught Programming with Data Structures, Algorithms and Data Structures, and Computational Complexity. The students in the program were the top 20 students (11 female, 9 male) selected from about 140 applicants from eight West Bank universities. Plans are in place for Prof. Sakallah to return and teach a new group of students at the School in the Summer of 2013.

Prof. Sakallah is now working with two project teams of two students each on continuity projects that will run through December. According to him, “We meet regularly via videoconference and make use of collaborative technology over the Internet. These are strong freshmen and sophomore students who I hope will be good graduate student recruitment prospects in a few years. The opportunity to work with and impact these students has been extremely gratifying.”

About the Ibn Sina School for Computer Science

The Ibn Sina School was founded by Professor Adnan Darwiche of the UCLA Computer Science Department. Its International Advisory Board includes Prof. Wellman, along with other computer scientists from the United States and Europe. According to Prof. Wellman, the School is organized around a compelling vision for unlocking the potential of the region by exposing students to international standards of computer science education.