(July 9, 1998, Gazette)
For the past two months, Memorial has played host to six engineers from Libya. They're at Memorial as part of a professional development program offered by the Department of Continuing Engineering Education through which they will earn a diploma in advanced studies in mechanical engineering. Their training is funded by their employers, Ras-Lanuf Oil and Gas Processing Co. (Rasco), a petro-chemical oil company.
The program provides practical courses in sub-specialties of mechanical engineering. In particular, the students are developing skills which they will use with Rasco.
Idris Mansour, one of the engineers participating in the program, said that he is developing many new technical skills and gaining familiarity with computers. The program is being taught over 26 weeks, and is divided into two semesters. During each semester, students are required to complete six courses. Six core courses are designed to emphasize engineering management and the other six focus on engineering enhancement. If the students receive a passing grade, they will apply for convocation from Memorial.
In addition to the diploma program, students and their families are being trained in word processing, spreadsheet development, and other types of software. They are also being taught English as a second language.
Fred Curtis, director of Continuing Education for the faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said the program is providing a two-way benefit.
"The benefit to the engineers is the professional upgrading of new skills and practices that they can take back to their company for industrial improvements," he said. "For the Faculty of Engineering, the benefits are two fold: there is a cultural exchange, and a sharing of technical information combined with industrial linkages to international companies that the students represent."
This is the first trip to Canada for all of the Libyan students and according to Mr. Mansour, their experience is not quite what they had expected. Most of them thought they would find a faster paced environment. Mr. Mansour said the group has been impressed with how down to-earth and friendly Newfoundlanders are. He also pointed out that there are a lot of similarities between Libya and Canada.
"Where I come from is a lot like St. John's, but it is not surprising as the whole world is becoming one."
This is the second time that the Department of Continuing Engineering Education has provided a Middle East oil company with professional development courses and programs. The Libyan group is set to return home Nov. 11.