AUC to launch new solar energy specialization, first in region

Press release
Published May 25th, 2015 - 11:19 GMT
The American University in Cairo
The American University in Cairo

The American University in Cairo (AUC) will launch a new specialization in solar energy, offered by the Department of Physics at the School of Sciences and Engineering. The program, a first of its kind in the region, is in alignment with both national and international trends that emphasize the importance of renewable energy in general and solar energy in particular. “We planned to launch this specialization due to the high student demand and interest in the topic, in addition to the increasing need for professionals with the skills to successfully lead solar energy development ventures,” said Mohamed Swillam, assistant professor and associate chair of the Department of Physics. Swillam added that there are other factors that helped in the launch of the specialization including particularly the decrease in the costs of solar energy production and the ever-growing demand for ‘green-energy’.  

Swillam, who is also a member of the curriculum committee that developed the new specialization, said that the new specialization will provide a solid undergraduate-level education for students who desire to strengthen their knowledge in the field of solar energy. “The job market at the moment is in need of such professionals, particularly in Egypt, keeping in mind that there are currently around 184 startup energy companies in the country and a majority of these companies were initiated by AUC physics alumni,” said Swillam.

Swillam, explained that this new specialization is a clear evidence of how the physics department is evolving dynamically incorporating teaching and research that is coherent with the international and national development as well as the strategic plan of the department and the school. “The effort in developing this program without the need of any additional resources was challenging. However, we believe that it will be rewarding for our students and for the department,” he added.

AUC has been pioneering in the field of solar energy during the past years. In 2013, addressing the issue of insufficiency of energy resources in the world and in Egypt a team of researchers at AUC, headed by Associate Professor of Physics Ehab Abdel Rahman (now associate provost for research), developed a thermoacoustic heat engine to convert thermal energy into acoustic, or sound, energy, to eventually produce electricity.  

Also Nageh Allam, assistant professor of physics at AUC received the 2013 Best Publication Award from the National Research Center (NRC) for his innovative research on how nanotechnology can be used to convert solar energy to fuel or electricity, specifically the development of materials to replace the expensive silicon in sustainable industries.

Recently also AUC professor and a team of professors and graduate students from Ain Shams University developed novel solar panels to brighten alleyways and narrow streets. Khaled Nassar, associate professor of construction and architectural engineering at AUC worked with Ein Shams University team on the design of plastic panels to improve lighting of dim areas by more than 200 percent in the fall and 400 percent in the winter.

AUC students also have been excelling in the field of solar energy. Working as part of AUC research team, chemistry junior Dina Eissa used nanotechnology in the form of zinc oxide nanorods to produce a clean, sustainable and cheap method of harnessing solar energy as a way of confronting the looming energy crisis in Egypt and the global community.   

Background Information

American University of Cairo

Founded in 1919, AUC is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of intellectual, social and cultural life of the Arab world. Its community of students, parents, faculty and staff, trustees, alumni and other generous sponsors represent more than 60 countries. The University stands as a crossroads for the world’s cultures and a vibrant forum for reasoned argument, spirited debate and understanding across the diversity of languages, facilities and human experiences.

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