On annual open day, engineering students meet prospective employers, discuss industry realities and challenges

Engineering students showcased their graduation projects and met with engineering firms and prospective employers in an open day organized by Birzeit University’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology together with the ministry of labor and the Democracy and Workers' Rights Center (DWRC) on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. 

Also featuring exhibitions by Palestinian engineering and solutions companies, the open day brought students together with representatives of private and civil society institutions, academics, experts, and governmental representatives to discuss the realities and challenges of engineering in Palestine. 

Vice President for Academic Affairs at Birzeit University Henry Jaqaman emphasized the need for academic institutions to keep abreast of the ongoing technological and engineering developments by offering a holistic education that prepares students for an increasingly connected world. 

Highlighting the university’s efforts to connect students and maintain partnerships with private, governmental, and civil society institutions, Jaqaman said that the open day is an annual tradition at Birzeit University, aimed at linking future engineers with employers and solution providers. He also called on the attending engineering students to harness their energy and creativity to benefit the broader Palestinian community, whether at home or abroad. 

Wasel Ghanem, the dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology at Birzeit University, asserted that the faculty considers holding such open days part of its mission to connect students with the industry. He lauded the faculty’s new academic offerings as a key step towards an education that prepares students for the fourth industrial revolution and praised its focus on critical-thinking and problem-solving skills as well as on teamwork. 

Ghanem also gave a brief overview of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology − which made its facilities available for the students’ use in this event − which offers nine programs that lead to a bachelor’s degree and five programs that lead to a master’s degree. He highlighted the faculty’s focus on participatory learning, innovation, creative thinking, and interdisciplinarity. 
Jalal Al Dabeek, the head of the Palestine Engineers Association, said that cooperation with universities helps establish state institutions and noted that the association has helped in raising the competencies and competitiveness of Palestinian engineers in local, regional, and international job markets. 

Samer Salameh, the deputy labor minister, stressed that the academic programs must harmonize their outputs with the needs of the local job market and called for the establishment of hybrid programs that combine vocational training with academic knowledge. 

Mohammad Jabareen, the deputy local government minister, reiterated the importance of establishing interconnected, interdisciplinary fields that infuse technology into the different engineering spheres. He expressed support for efforts to foster the continuous evolvement of the field to keep abreast of international developments. 

Amani Dawood, a representative of the Democracy and Workers' Rights Center, gave a brief introduction on the center and outlined its aims. It was established, she explained, as a non-governmental, non-profit organization that strives to defend Palestinian workers’ rights and promote the principles of democracy and social justice. She called for holding more workshops, seminars, and lectures on occupational safety and health, to be geared towards jobs in all fields.