Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Students and faculty are in the throes of what is now the third week of the Winter Enrichment Period or WEP. The WEP principal is actually very good, though in practice student experiences have been mixed.

The WEP is four weeks long, between the end of the fall and beginning of the spring semesters, and a variety of courses are offered to students free of credit, tests, and homework (though there are exceptions) which range from entrepreneurship, to Arabic music, to marine science classes. Some KAUST professors offered seminars, but the bulk of the teaching was actually done by visiting professors from Cambridge, Cornell, MIT... the list goes on.

A complete listing of this year's WEP schedule is available here as a google document, though it is a little difficult to use because of the information overload.

Some courses were well attended, and some were not. I know that "Technology Entrepreneurship," taught by a visiting professional from the Thunderbird School of Management, was overwhelmingly popular, but then some of the more focused talks, such as "Advanced Finite Elements with Applications to Numerical Reservoir Simulation," might have only been attended by a few bright students who could really relate to the material.

Only four of the available courses required homework, and I am in two of those. While some students spent their evenings creating new WEP euphemisms such as the "Winter Em-boring Period," or racked up dozens of medals and free t-shirts at WEP athletic competitions, I was in the library scrambling for academic journal articles and plowing through assignments every day. I even missed the basketball tournaments, and that was very sad.

Overall though, I enjoyed the WEP. One of the side benefits for students who have taken the initiative is networking with partners who came to KAUST for WEP. I was even encouraged by one partner to apply for a Ph.D. in his lab - and I have started the application process.

As for courses, many were great... there is plenty of room to improve upon for next year.

Most of the students have enjoyed this "enriching" period, but I think that the real enthusiasts are somewhere in the staff offices. Marketing here was a bit extravagant - we even have two WEP buses!

1 comment:

  1. You missed a basketball tournament?? That is some serious studying!:)