The Higher Colleges of Technology officially launched its 2014/15 academic year as it convened its 27th Annual Conference for faculty and staff at the HCT-Dubai Men’s College on September 9.
The one-day event, held under the theme of Learning by Doing – The Road Ahead, was a premier opportunity for the HCT community to plan for the academic year ahead, as well as to learn of new developments in teaching methods and pedagogy.
The HCT Chancellor, HE Mohammad Omran Al Shamsi delivered the opening address in front of more than 1,500 faculty and staff members who travelled from the HCT’s 16 other campuses throughout the UAE for the convocation ceremony. In keeping with tradition, all new faculty members were introduced to the Chancellor.
HE Mohammad Omran Al Shamsi addressed the gathering on a wide range of issues which will be relevant to the HCT community for the 2014/2015 academic year.
In welcoming new and returning faculty and staff His Excellency stressed the importance of maintaining focus on HCT’s goal to become the UAE’s number one applied technology institution. He noted that several initiatives had been undertaken in pursuit of this including adherence to the Learning by Doing philosophy, technology integration throughout the colleges, Emiratisation and the 170@17 teacher training scheme, and initiatives arising from the newly created Industry Advisory Council.
The Chancellor thanked the nation’s leadership for their ongoing support and encouragement of HCT, and commented that HCT would continue to do its best in achieving its goals in higher education, which focus around nurturing graduates who have the skills and knowledge to enter the workforce and make important contributions to the nation. His Excellency urged all delegates to work hard throughout the coming year so that HCT achieves its goal of being the number one ranked institution in the UAE.
The event was also highlighted by the presentation of the Nikai Award for Student Excellence & Innovation in Teaching with special guest Mr Paras Shahdadpuri, Chairman of the Nikai Group. Another feature of the day was the presentation of 25-year service certificates to HCT faculty and staff members.
The conference was divided into a series of highly popular concurrent sessions run in the morning and afternoon and covering sub-themes such as:
- Quality is Job One!
- The Power to be Your Best
- Think Outside the Box
- The Relentless Pursuit of Assessment for Learning
- Better Teaching and Learning Through Applied Research and
- Service is our Passion
The sub-theme of Applied Research was complemented by the presentation of the HCT Applied Research Faculty Awards which celebrated outstanding innovation and applied research by HCT faculty and staff, and which were divided into the following three categories:
- Best published/accepted journal article, book, or book chapter (1st prize – AED 15,000)
- Best presented conference paper (1st prize – AED 10,000)
- Best community research project (1st prize – AED 5,000)
The 90 entries were judged by an 11-member panel and the winners of the respective categories were as follows:
- Dr. Brahim Benhammouda – Analytical Solutions for Systems of Partial Differential – Algebraic Equations
- Dr Ahsan Chaudhri – Integration of Simultaneous Media Channel for Modelling Interactivity in Ubiquitous Campaigns
- Beverly Wagner and Dr Georgia Daleure – Using Reflection Techniques and other Learning by Doing Activities to Increase Awareness of Older Adult Resilience in a Rapidly Developing Society: The Case of the UAE.
Dr Tayeb Kamali, HCT Vice Chancellor, congratulated the category winners, adding that HCT’s applied research capabilities were progressing well as evidenced by the nature, variety and depth of the submissions.
“It is very pleasing to see so many HCT faculty members submitting their work, with 90 submissions made for the awards. These awards demonstrate our commitment to furthering applied research on a variety of topics across all of HCT disciplines and which are strongly tied to HCT’s philosophy of Learning by Doing, where we are discovering new concepts and techniques to enhance the collegiate experience of our students,” Dr Kamali said.
In keeping with the conference theme of The Road Ahead, the themes for the 20 break-out sessions concentrated on the major issues that HCT will face in the coming 12 months including accreditation; Emiratisation and the HCT’s 170@17 teacher training initiative; technology and mobile learning integration throughout the HCT campuses; the benefits of applied research in teaching and learning; and student engagement and retention.
Dr. Tayeb Kamali said the new academic year promised many exciting challenges, opportunities and successes as HCT continued on the road ahead for educational excellence. He urged the faculty and staff to concentrate on the HCT pillars of education which made it a leading higher education institution across the country, and to continue their focus to make HCT the UAE’s number one higher education institution.