UNMATCHED EXPERTISE

Qatar 2020 | EDUCATION & RESEARCH | INTERVIEW

With a focus on AI and entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar aims to hone the skills of Qatari youth and help diversify the economy.

Michael Trick
BIOGRAPHY

Michael Trick is the dean and chief academic officer of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Trick joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University in 1989 after completing his PhD in industrial engineering at Georgia Tech. He is a two-time recipient of the George Leland Bach Award for best teacher in CMU's Tepper School of Business MBA program. From 1998 through 2005, he was president of the Carnegie Bosch Institute for Applied Studies in International Management. At the Tepper School of Business, he served as associate dean of research, senior associate dean of education, and senior associate dean of faculty and research. Trick has authored more than 50 professional publications and edited six volumes of refereed articles.

What is the strategy behind the broad spectrum of academic disciplines offered at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar?
It seems like an unusual selection, but the programs are actually quite complementary. We added the information systems program more than 10 years ago because it is, in fact, a different discipline than computer science. We find that having both programs allows students to find the exact area in technology that interests them. Our business administration program takes a quantitative approach and is technology-oriented. In fact, the CMU business administration program is STEM-designated in Pittsburgh. Our biological sciences program is an alternative for students at Weill Cornell University-Qatar who decided to pursue science instead of medicine. Students take computer programming and mathematics, just as they do in our other programs. Students can also combine biological sciences and computer science for a computational biology degree.

Why was Carnegie Mellon approached to come to Education City Qatar?
Sheikha Moza bint Nasser's vision for Education City was not to find one university to cover everything, but to find the best in every field. We have arguably the world's best computer science program, along with a top-10 undergraduate business program. Initially, it was these strengths that led Qatar Foundation to extend an invitation to Carnegie Mellon.

Is Education City attracting international students?
We try to have around 80% of our students from Qatar, which typically means that about 45% are Qatari citizens and 35% are long-term residents who grew up here. Usually, about 20% of our student population comes from outside the country, and most of them end up staying and working here. We often hear from our international alumni that they feel deep gratitude toward Qatar and Qatar Foundation, because otherwise they could not have received the education they did. Our fundamental goal is to have an impact on Qatar, and we are certainly doing that.

What has your contribution to Qatar been so far?
Our programs impact many areas. We have many alumni who have pursued entrepreneurial ventures, for example. We have a large number of alumni who are working in healthcare in a variety of different scientific and technological roles. We have a robust community engagement initiative that includes reaching out to pre-college students, particularly in the area of computer science. The next generation will need strong computational skills, no matter what field they pursue, and we are helping to spread awareness and use our expertise to bring those skills to students in Qatar.

Qatar's National Vision aims to create a diversified economy, and one of its pillars is social development. What is education's contribution to achieving this?
It is difficult to create a diversified economy overnight; one needs entrepreneurial activities, a strong private sector, and government support. All these things require a strong, quality educational infrastructure. By bringing in the partner universities, along with Qatar University, which is an outstanding school, Qatar can now offer multiple opportunities for young people to develop the skills and knowledge to help diversify the economy. Economic diversification is a generational change, and Qatar is on the right track to achieve its vision.

What steps do you plan to implement over the next few years?
We will continue to provide a quality education for our students, and this means constantly reviewing and improving upon the full student experience. We will put more emphasis on AI and entrepreneurship. We are expanding our outreach to the kindergarten to Grade 12 education system. We want to promote an exchange of ideas so we can become an even more integral part of the country.