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The guest was Raida Al-Alawi

    Mel De Gioia 0:24

Welcome to Engineering Leaders Mini Series in the lead up to the very first World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development 2020. This mini series is being supported by the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. My name is Melanie and my co host and our podcast’s resident engineer is Dominic. Today’s episode is on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 4, Quality Education.

    Dom 0:51

Our guest today is a chemical and electrical engineer speaking to us from the Kingdom of Bahrain. She’s the Director of Technology Development at BFG International. She’s active within many engineering groups and societies, and is currently chairing the ICT committee of the Federation of Arab engineers, and is a board member of the Bahrain Society of Engineers. Currently, she is holding the position of programme evaluator for the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology, and is a programme reviewer for the Bahrain Education and Training Quality Authority, and the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority. Our guest today is Dr. Raida Al-Alawi

    Mel De Gioia 1:32

Raida’s older brother is an electrical engineer, so she suspects she followed a little in his footsteps, but in school, Raida loved maths and science. She loves solving problems, and found inspiration for her creativity and curiosity within science.

    Guest 1:47

So I decided to go for engineering where I’ll be using my math and science skills to design, to be creative and to solve practical problems.

    Dom 1:57

This series is actually based around the Sustainable Development Goal number 4, which is quality education. Can you tell us a little bit about what is involved in that UN SDG?

    Guest 2:08

So, this goal is concerned about delivering quality education and to ensure that it is in delivering inclusive and equitable quality education that promotes also life long learning opportunities for all.

    Mel De Gioia 2:26

That sounds amazing, I can really see the need. Why are you focusing on education?

    Guest 2:33

I am wearing a lots of hats in my career and then in my voluntary work and all of these I feel that I’m directly contributing to SDG number 4. So to start with, I have been working with the university and as a higher institution, Education Institute for around three decades now. So I’m contributing to the achievement of this SDG by providing accessible, affordable and inclusive education for all. I’m also a board member of Bahrain Society of Engineers and the Director of Training Centre at the society which is in a voluntary capacity. BSE which is the Bahrain Society of Engineering and its Training Centre is very active actually in delivering conferences, workshops, training courses, to upskill and reskill people from all sectors and from all ages with the technical knowledge demanded by the workplace, and to also establish lifelong learning support to the community in technology and engineering. Hence delivering considerable benefits to the science society as a whole. Also, I am a programme reviewer for the International ABET Accreditation Board, as well as regional engineering a programme quality evaluator. So I am directly contributing to SDG 4 because working with programmes that working with the higher education quality authorities, it will ensure the development of engineering education programmes that has to comply with the international standards and ensure this programme addresses the 4 components of the


SDG 4 which is being inclusive, equitable, quality education programme that promotes lifelong learning for all.


Actually all of these are among the standard that has to be fulfilled by any programme we review in order to be an accredited or to pass the review.

    Dom 4:39

How you as an engineer contributing to this UN SDG?

    Guest 4:43

As you know, we are on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the emerging digital technologies has widened the manufacturing skill gap. Hence if we are adapting teach technology, they are also useful tools to closing the manufacturing skills gap. That’s why they at BFG where I’m working currently has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bahranian Economic Development Board to support its vision and its initiative to develop local talent pool of expert in technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And this partnership is aimed to help young talents to bridge the gap between academic and industrial knowledge by giving them access to key technologies. So me as the leader of the industry 4.0 team, with the team we are trying to develop skills and know how knowledge through the engagement of our young engineers and the different projects in the factory, hence helping them to become leading expert, a local experts in the field. But I have got a voluntary project that I am hoping to achieve and I have proposed it to the WFEO. And that was about what I call the project, the Global Cyber School.

    Mel De Gioia 6:15

That sounds fascinating.

    Guest 6:17


Yes. So this project really involves a collaborative effort from all over the world to create an online global interactive cyber teaching platform for the K to 12 grades.


    Mel De Gioia 6:34

And is it general teaching or is it specific to engineering?

    Guest 6:38

It’s directed to school. So it’s a general teaching.


The idea is that we would like to reach all societies without any boundaries by using ICT tools and technologies for the benefit of the developing nations.


Specifically, those would for example, Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia and the vulnerable populations such as person with disability, the refugees, which are now for example, in Syria and all over the world and the children in poor rural areas. We are trying to utilise all the efforts and all the schools teaching and to bring them through utilising the ICT to make like a virtual learning platform.

    Mel De Gioia 7:32

Can I just clarify… were you also talking about needing to put in the infrastructure? So say for instance, a refugee camp or something may not have…. or a third world, developing country may not have the infrastructure.. would… Did your project cover that as well?

    Guest 7:48

Yes, of course. I mean, this is a


very challenging because you have to use the ICT and engineering skill-set to bring up this one.


So connectivity for example, there are so many challenges to achieve this specially, we’re talking about areas where there is no telecommunication infrastructure there. So the


engineering skills are really needed to implement such an infrastructure or this ICT,


a Global Cyber School.


When we talk about the infrastructure it utilises the unlimited potential of the internet, the satellite communication, all of these technologies


from developing countries to have interactive classroom delivered by teachers from participant countries who should be visible and accessible in real time. So they will be conducting lessons in real time, interactive lessons. In addition to this interactive real time teaching, the platform will be a providing learners and open access extensive educational resources and services to reinforce their learning and educational experience. What I was hoping is that


it is collaborative from all over the world. It’s going to… going to be a multi language, cloud based interactive learning management system,


which will cover the basic education curriculum taught in school from the kindergarten and up to the 12th grade.

    Mel De Gioia 9:31

That’s a lot of education to put into that cloud.

    Guest 9:34

It is, it is yeah, it’s the huge global network. Yeah, and many of these really are available nowadays. But let me say they are not available in a single platform.

    Mel De Gioia 9:48

Sounds like an amazing, amazing project.

    Dom 9:51

It’s definitely it’s a very large task as well.

    Guest 9:56

It is a huge task because it’s a collaborative task which needs lots of effort from many different entities.

    Dom 10:06

Do you have any goals that you’re looking to achieve for 2020?

    Guest 10:09

This is one of the things that I would like to start with this in 2020. What I’m looking for because I’m supposed to start before, but there was no sufficient funds to do it. So now I’m working really in getting a fund from entities or government here to support my project.

    Mel De Gioia 10:30

How much are you asking for? Or are you thinking you need to get this up?

    Guest 10:34

To start with what I have really a test to be in stages. So what’s in my mind is that it has to be start with with one topic, one subject for example. I was thinking about learning Arabic as an initial topic, and connecting all Arabic schools which would like to collaborate in this a project. At all stages from kindergarten to 12th, specific teacher, for example, and grade one, grade two and so on, that they wish to broadcast their lessons across the internet through this platform. And then we succeed and this we can go and introduce a new topic and so on. I’m putting really as starting the requested budget is something around 250,000 Bahranian Dollars.

    Mel De Gioia 11:32

Was this your project, your idea?

    Guest 11:34

Yes, this is an idea that or I propose it for the WFEO.

    Mel De Gioia 11:40

Where did the idea come from? Why did you come up with this?

    Guest 11:46

Actually being involved in education and seeing the need. And when I said I will started with Arabic because I have seen the need from different sectors for learning Arabic, and I’m talking specially for those refugees, also many of the native Arabs, which are living abroad, and they don’t have access to Arabic language, learning Arabic language. This idea started with me. So let’s start with Arabic. Many people who are living abroad and they need to teach their children Arabic. And they want a platform where it’s just like a traditional school, but they will get everything through the internet in a uniform way.

    Dom 12:37

It’s an amazing project.

    Guest 12:38

Thank you.

    Dom 12:39

So quality education is really the foundation to absolutely everything in the world.

    Mel De Gioia 12:46

And to be able to provide that sort of education globally and uniformly would be an amazing feat. So well good luck with getting funding for that over this year.

    Guest 13:02

Thank you.

    Mel De Gioia 13:03

Thank you so much for joining us today.

    Dom 13:05

Thank you so much. It’s been wonderful speaking with you.

    Guest 13:07

Thank you. Thank you very much.

    Mel De Gioia 13:09

And thank you for tuning into Engineering Leaders as we prepare you for the first World Engineering Day on Sustainable Development, which is going to be held every fourth of March. We hope you’re enjoying our mini series which is brought to you with the support of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. The best way for you to show your support for our show, is to tell people, either in person or write a review. Just spread the word. Seriously, it is that easy. We look forward to you and your friends joining us next time when we bring you another episode with one of our engineering champions.

Transcribed by

Today we speak to Raida Al Alawi who is a computer and electrical engineer, speaking to us from the kingdom of Bahrain. She’s the director of technology development at BFG International.

Raida is active within many engineering groups and societies and is currently chairing the ICT committee of the Federation of Arab Engineers and is a board member of the Bahrain Society of Engineers.

Currently, Raida is holding the position as Program Evaluator for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and is the Program Reviewer for Bahrain Education and Training Quality Authority and external the Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA).