Dr. Raja Iliya, Professor Emeritus, Dr. George Ayoub, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Prof. Albert Kuran, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Ibrahim N. Hajj, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

This academic year the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA) at the American University of Beirut is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Faculty was established in 1951 and a new building donated by Stephen D. Bechtel was constructed to house it.

However, as early as 1913 the American University of Beirut recognized the need for engineering education in the Arab World and, consequently, a program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Engineering was established within the School of Arts and Sciences. The courses offered were in the field of Civil Engineering, and were covered during the Junior and Senior years. The Department of Engineering was located in Bliss Hall, room 108, where all of the engineering courses were given and, by 1944, sufficient additional courses had been added to permit conferment of the degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.

President Chamoun's & Dean Weidner
Inauguration Ceremony
Bechtel Building 1952

The first class in this program graduated in June 1945, and the last class in June 1954. By that time a separate School of Engineering had been established in 1951 under the Deanship of C. Ken Weidner, and a new building donated by Stephen D. Bechtel was constructed to house it. This building, which was named the Bechtel Engineering Building, after its donor, was inaugurated on April 16, 1954, under the auspices of his Excellency Mr. Camille N. Chamoun, President of the Lebanese Republic, and in the presence of Dr. Constantine Zurayk, Acting President of AUB, and Mr. Stephen Bechtel.

Four years curricula were initiated in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and architectural engineering but the years between 1951 and 1954 were a transitional period of continuous development toward the new curricula established in 1954.

In 1962 Raymond S. Ghosn, Professor of Architecture, was appointed to succeed Dean C. Ken Weidner. In 1963, a five-year program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Architecture was introduced, replacing the Bachelor of Architectural Engineering program, the last class of which graduated in June 1966. In that same year the School was renamed the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and was reorganized to comprise four departments: the Department of Architecture, and the Departments of Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering. Since then the curricula have been under constant review with changes introduced whenever deemed necessary. The first programs leading to a Master's degree in Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering were introduced in 1962 and other programs have been added to help meet the growing demand for advanced engineering education and, most recently, to promote physical planning to serve social ends.

After the untimely death of Dean Raymond Ghosn on February 17, 1976, Professor Robert Sloane was appointed Acting Dean for a period of six months followed by six month rotating acting deanships from among the chairmen of departments namely, the late Professors Thomas Bridgewood, Khosrof Yeramian and Professor Edward Hope. In 1977 Professor Kanaan Kano was appointed Dean of the Faculty and served till 1982 when the late Associate Professor Henri Madani took over as Acting Dean until 1986, the year Professor Nassir Sabah was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. Dean Sabah served until the year 1999 when he was succeeded by Professor Mohamed Harajli as Acting Dean of the Faculty. In the year 2000 Professor Ibrahim Hajj was appointed as Dean of the Faculty and has been serving in this capacity up to the present.

During the tenure of Dean C. Ken Weidner, the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture grew tremendously in enrollment, laboratory facilities, and physical plant. The present University power plant was initially built for use by the students in the Departments of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, as well as to provide electric power and hot water to the University as a standby unit. The diesel generator sets, switchgears, and boilers were donated through the efforts of Dean Weidner. During the same period three additional buildings were constructed to house mainly the shops (wood, metal, and welding), and laboratories of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. Also Sanitary Engineering and Hydraulic laboratories were built and fully equipped.

It is worth noting that most of the original laboratory and shop equipment were acquired through the persistent effort of Dean Weidner and the generosity of American and European donors. In 1962 a graduate program in Sanitary Engineering was introduced. In keeping with international trends, the program was renamed in 1973 as Environmental Engineering. The year 1978 witnessed a freezing of the program because of the devastating events in the country. The program was unfrozen at the conclusion of the civil strife in 1992.

Surveying Camp - Bhamdoun Village 1953

An important aspect introduced into the program as early as 1952 was the establishment of a summer camp where all students of the Faculty, after completing the first Year, spent ten weeks studying surveying and the use and operation of building construction equipment such as traxcavators, bulldozers, and road scrapers. Besides the academic benefits, the students had the opportunity to experience the conditions of community camp living by sleeping, eating, and studying under the same tents as their professors. Undoubtedly, this life created and strengthened the school spirit and exposed the students to the hardships of real professional life. The first real camp site was started in 1954 in Zghorta, and was moved in 1958 to the grounds of Shwayfat National High School (Mr. Charles Saad). In 1960 a permanent camp set-up was established in Mazboud in the Chouf District. Due to a change in the curriculum the surveying course became restricted as a requirement to Civil Engineering majors only. This resulted in the closure of the camp in 1970, and the surveying course has since been taught on the Main Campus.

Using plane table - 1952
Using total station - 2001

Since the early 90's an ambitious program of renovation and construction has been undertaken. The fourth floor in Bechtel building was expanded and remodeled to house the engineering library and a new examination hall. A fifth floor was added to provide additional faculty offices and large classrooms. An existing structure in the shop area was remodeled to house the Environmental Engineering Research Center and a section was added to the Fluid Mechanics laboratory to house the Water Resources Center. An additional third floor was added on the western side of Wing B to house laboratories for control systems, communications and microprocessors. The Architecture Building was completely renovated with the addition of an extra floor to provide design studios and faculty offices. Plans are underway to replace Wings B and C with a new engineering building to house laboratories, lecture hall, and offices.

Bechtel Building - 1992
In 2001 a new building dedicated to the late Dean Raymond Ghosn was completed and inaugurated under the auspices of Mr. Rafic Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon represented by Mrs. Bahia Hariri, Member of Parliament and in the presence of AUB President John Waterbury and other dignitaries.
In 1986 the Electrical Engineering Department introduced a new program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Engineering - major, Computer and Communications Engineering. In 1992 the Department of Architecture introduced a new four-year undergraduate degree program in Graphic Design. At the graduate level, each of the three engineering departments offered a program leading to the Degree of Master of Engineering. The Master's degree program in Urban Planning and Urban Design was initiated within the Department of Architecture. A new interdepartmental graduate program leading to the Degree of Master of Engineering Management was started in 1990. The feasibility of introducing a Ph.D. program in engineering is underway.
Dean Raymond Ghosn Building - 2001

The number of full-time faculty members increased from 14 in 1952 to 49 in 2001. Over the same period the student numbers increased from about 100 undergraduate students in 1951 to about 1200 undergraduate and 150 graduate students in 2001. The need for extra faculty as a result of the increase in the number of programs and students over the past ten years resulted in an increase in part-time faculty numbers from 23 to 60 in 2001.

Every effort has been and continues to be made towards the enhancement of academic standards, whether through student admission, faculty development, recruitment of highly qualified faculty, emphasis on research activity and effectiveness of teaching, updating and improvement of curricula, strict evaluations and monitoring of student performance, and upgrading of laboratory and physical facilities. Faculty were encouraged to avail themselves of opportunities to attend conferences, workshops, seminars, and short courses abroad, and to spend the summer months, on a rotating basis, on working visits to universities in the USA and Europe.

1948 Model ( Still in Use)
2001 Model State (state-of-the-art)
Material Testing Machine

Social, cultural, and athletic activities were encouraged because of their importance for personality development of engineering and architecture students, as is the fostering of ethical conduct, positive attitudes, and traits of hard work and self discipline. The primary goal of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture has always been to graduate engineers and architects who are renown as much for their spirit, personality, conduct and attitudes as for their professional skills and knowledge.

Alumni of the Faculty have contributed significantly to the efforts and plans of the Faculty. A Council of Alumni Support of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture was established and has met regularly to plan and supervise Alumni activities. Relations and ties with Alumni have always been a source of pride to the Faculty and should be continually nurtured, strengthened and enhanced to the benefit of both Faculty and Alumni.

The Faculty of Engineering and Architecture continuously strives to maintain its national and regional leadership in education and research, and its commitment to the service of the country and the region and in keeping pace with international developments. In October 2001 all engineering curricula were restructured to conform to the US Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Interdepartmental research groups were formed that focus on energy, information technology and mechatronics. Other research groups are being formed. Research funds were received from local and international agencies and companies. In 2001 LibanCell donated $200,000 to the FEA, $100,000 for scholarships and $100,000 for equipment and research support on wireless communications. AUB trustee Ray Irani donated $100,000 to support research projects in the Energy Research Group. Dar Al-Handassah (Shair and Partners) donated $250,000 towards a $2,000,000 endowment fund to support research in engineering. ASHA donated $600,000 towards new laboratory equipment.

Also in 2001, other grants, contracts, gifts and donations were received from the AUB research Board, the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research, other local and international government agencies, businesses, and individuals, including a $50,000 annual donation for scholarships from an anonymous alumnus, an annual $10,000 Fawzi W. Azar award to a student in Architecture, an annual $5,000 donation from the Charles Kettanneh Foundation, and an annual $10,000 donation from the Lakeside Foundation. The AUB Engineering & Architecture Alumni Chapter has a Scholarship Fund earmarked for the School of Engineering & Architecture. In 2001 the Chapter donated $42,000 to the Scholarship Fund. The Chapter also helped provide 70 jobs for our graduating students through their annual Job Fair.

A number of activities have been planned for this academic year to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of FEA. The Raymond S. Ghosn Building that was dedicated on October 31, 2001, was part of the 50th anniversary celebration. On November 3rd, 2001, the Engineering and Architecture Alumni Chapter organized a gala dinner at the Phoenicia Hotel to honor a number of distinguished alumni and friends. This Spring 2002 celebration events include students' sports activities, art and science exhibitions, lecture series in all departments, a musical concert, job fair and gala by the AUB Engineering Alumni Association, class reunions, a conference, and final year projects exhibitions by students.