DUBAI // In 1990, Mahdi Hassan was training to be an aircraft technician, as part of the first batch of graduates from Dubai's men's campus.
He had done his undergraduate degree at the Florida International University, but saw great potential in the emirate's aviation industry, which even back then was being touted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, now Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, as a priority.
"Other than HCT, UAE University was the only place we could educate ourselves," Mr Hassan says. "There were some other places here but they weren't mature enough.
"Most of the teachers there weren't very international and didn't have good English, whereas at HCT there were teachers from countries all over the world. You could really benefit from that."
It was free and supported by the Government, giving new students the confidence that studying there was not a risk.
"Aviation was a growing industry, more in Dubai than Abu Dhabi at the time," Mr Hassan says. "At that time HCT was the only place we could even study this.
"We were given hands-on training and knowledge, as well as the opportunity to be part of the growing aviation industry."
His three sons have also attended the college. And like him, all three now work for Emirates airline.
HCT has come a long way since Mr Hassan's time.
"My kids had two computers, one for home and one for school," he says. "They had all this technology, more books, they had the English language, so in turn they had access to so much more knowledge as the years went on. You can only imagine how much more knowledge they were exposed to."
And the growth of HCT reflects the growth of Dubai and the UAE, Mr Hassan says. "The way I was seeing Dubai and the UAE grow, it seemed clear HCT would go a similar way."