Kyle Garrett Weber and his wife, Maizakiah Ayu Abdullah - who had a baby during their two-year study at Masdar Institute - were among nearly 100 students to graduate with postgraduate diplomas.
First-time parents join Class of 2013 to graduate from Abu Dhabi's Masdar Institute
ABU DHABI // Nearly 100 students were awarded postgraduate diplomas from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technologyyesterday - but there was particular reason to cheer in one household.
Kyle Garrett Weber and his wife, Maizakiah Ayu Abdullah, each received their master's in engineering systems and management, a well-deserved reward after an intense two years of study made even more hectic by the birth of their first child in the first month of their first semester.
The couple, from the United States and Malaysia, met in 2007 while working as field engineers in the oil and gas industry. After travelling the world and teaching in India, they moved to Abu Dhabi two years ago to take the course.
"It's been stressful, we have always been busy at the same time and with our son, we wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of our friends and professors," Ms Abdullah said. "A lot of our fellow students helped to babysit and a lot of the professors were very understanding."
Mr Weber will now undertake a year-long research programme with the Masdar Institute, while his wife hopes to continue her own research.
The couple were among 93 students who graduated in the fields of chemical engineering, computing and information science, electrical-power engineering, engineering systems and management, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, microsystems engineering and water and environmental engineering.
Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, vice-chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, handed each student their certificate during a ceremony at Emirates Palace yesterday.
The students were the third batch to be awarded postgraduate diplomas by the institute, which was founded in 2006.
Emiratis account for 42 per cent of students. One of them, Meshayel Omran Lehsooni, was delighted to be awarded her master's in engineering systems and management.
"I am planning to send my CV to a number of Government agencies that are focusing on renewables and sustainability," she said.
"Hopefully in a few years I can also do a PhD."
Ms Lehsooni said this was a perfect time for Emirati women to study at UAE universities and schools.
"This is the time to consider education. If you gain knowledge, you will have a role in your community and society," she said.
"Women should not be focused only on the house. This is the time to take the support and take what we have and share it with everyone."
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, congratulated the students.
"The UAE plays a central role in the world's energy economy with huge investments in renewable energy through Masdar's projects and cooperation," she said.
"The UAE is now at the heart of the clean energy revolution and climate change mitigation efforts.
"Masdar is young compared to other academic establishments but it is one of the first in the world to specialise in renewable energy.
"With the great number of nationalities here, it is one of the leading establishments in the world."
Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, the president of the Masdar Institute, said: "Masdar remains proud of its assets and its human capital that it continues to develop for Abu Dhabi. It is in this respect we offer our sincere gratitude to the leadership of Abu Dhabi for their continuous support.
"Masdar will continue to strive to remain at the forefront of science and technology."
"This is a big achievement," added Amal Al Gaferi, an assistant professor. "We have seen these students all come to Masdar as fresh undergraduates seeking knowledge and after this two-year journey they are walking away from us with all this experience and they are ready to serve the nation. It is an achievement for all of us."
The ceremony was also attended by Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed, the Chief of the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.