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S-RSI aims to develop young talent



Twenty-five 11th-grade students are one step closer to becoming creators, inventors, scientists and leaders with their graduation recently as the first cohort of the Saudi Research Science Institute (S-RSI) at the Auditorium of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

From the time the students came to the opening convocation on July 1 until the graduation ceremony in August, a transformation in their character, confidence and scholastic achievements could be seen.

The young people were joined at the award ceremony at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology by their mentors, professors, program administrators and management from the university, King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), Saudi Aramco and the Center of Excellence in Education (CEE) in the United States.

This residential summer internship program was conducted over six weeks and focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics — summarized as “STEM.” It provides a mentorship model that combines theory courses and research.

Twenty-five research papers were completed and evaluated, and awards were given to top scholars on subjects such as nanotechnology, genetic engineering, coral reef ecology, marine biology, organometallic chemistry and computational math.

Preparation for this year’s program began in October 2009.

S-RSI is based on a four-part partnership initiated by Saudi Aramco’s Training and Development organization in coordination with the university, Mawhiba, and CEE. CEE established the U.S. Research Science Institute (RSI) in 1983. Every summer, it gathers 80 students from more than 50 countries to attend a six-week residential program focusing on STEM research subjects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Since 2004, Saudi Arabia has sent between four and six male and female gifted students who are selected by Mawhiba. Some of the students participated in the company’s College Preparation Program, and more than 10 of them joined top-tier universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford.

The mission of RSI is to nurture talented high school and college students for careers of excellence and leadership in science and to further international understanding among the future leaders of the world.

S-RSI is the sixth RSI program outside the United States. It will be conducted in coordination with CEE and the other partners, will follow the same standards and will aspire for the same results. It also will help the students hone their social and communication skills.

According to a memorandum of understanding signed by the four partners in July 2010, Saudi Aramco is committed to supporting the program for three years, starting with this summer’s institute.

As sponsor, Saudi Aramco meets one of its social responsibility goals and identifies young talent for its programs, the Kingdom’s leading universities and research institutions.

RSI is recognized internationally as a model of best practices in nurturing the minds of talented high school students in STEM. Organizers say the success of the first session and continuation of the program will help enhance the quality of general education in Saudi Arabia.


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