Logo: University of Southern California

First Five Kuwait Petroleum Engineers Receive Viterbi M.S. Degrees at 2012 Commencement

Their distance education study grew out of USC-KOC agreement signed in January 2010
May 10, 2012 —

On January 25, 2010, the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) announced an agreement for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to provide graduate education to KOC employees.

KOC students on campus to receive Viterbi MS degrees. Back row:Ali Al Saffar, Fahad Al Ghanem, Hadyan Alajmi Front row: Noha Najem, Professor Iraj Ershaghi,  Nadia Alzeabot
Two years, three months and 16 days later, on May 11, 2012, five KOC employees received USC Viterbi M.S. degrees, the first awarded under the program.

The five, who have a total of 60 years of experience as petroleum professionals with KOC, were able to complete all their classwork from Kuwait, via the Viterbi School’s Distance Education Network (DEN). But they were on campus for a week before commencement to attend in person the classes they have taken via videolinks. On commencement day they were among among the degree winners receiving diplomas.

"As the difficulty of meeting the technology challenges increases, I am pleased that the Viterbi School and its distinguished faculty can now provide KOC engineers with an advanced educational program incorporating new technologies," said  Dr. Adel E. Al-Abassi, KOC Manager, Research and Technology. "DEN will enhance our ability to develop these needed capabilities in our workforce while KOC can benefit from their continuous service."

Five executives from KOC came to Los Angeles to attend the ceremony. They were: Khalid A. Al-Sumaiti, Deputy Managing Director E & PD; Dr. Adel Essa Al-Abassi, Manager Research and Technology; Mr. Saad Rashed Al-Azmi, Manager Training & Career Development; Dr. Khairyah al-Hamad, Senior Process Engineer  R & S KOC and Dr. Mohammed Osman, Consultant, Research and Technology. Also attending was Cultural Counselor Dr. Ali-Alkazemi from Kuwait's Cultural Office.   

The partnership is co-directed by KOC’s Dr. Mohamed Osman and USC Professor Iraj Ershaghi, the director of the Viterbi School’s petroleum engineering program. 

The five degree recipients include two who have previously studied in the U.S. – Fahad Al Ghanem, who holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from

On commencment day. KOC MS winners Ali Al Saffar, Hadyan Alajmi, Fahad Al Ghanem,Noha Najem, Nadia Alzeabot. Photo by Victor Leung.
Oregon State University; and Ali Al Saffar, with a degree in electrical engineering from Florida University, Miami.

The three others — computer scientist Noha Najem, geologist Nadia Alzeabot, and mechanical engineer Hadyan Alajmi — hold degrees from Kuwaiti and other schools.

"The USC-KOC Center (UKC) offered a unique solution for me as I was able to pursue a degree in PhD Petroleum while enjoying the support of my family at home," said Al Ghanem. "USC offered access to all its e-resources, organized one on one session with graduate students to teach us new software and brush up on our basic knowledge of math and phase behavior."

"The program is unique," said Najem, "in the sense that it involves a combination of student in-person as well as real-time participation. Attendance of the course lectures ensures complete conformance to USC student education guidelines towards degree certification.”

The 2010 agreement was reached after an extensive worldwide search by KOC for training in state of the art petroleum engineering and petroleum geoscience. After investigating many schools, Dr. Al-Abbassi chose the Viterbi School because it combined a top academic program in the field with the proven global reach of DEN. Dr. Al-Abbassi’s vision was to provide graduate level education for the KOC staff without taking them away from family and their work responsibilities.

This is progressive thinking process for

2010: Viterbi School deans interact with KOC executives via live video linkage.
human resources development that is being adopted by many companies who are now joining to benefit from the advanced course delivery systems offered by the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, according to DEN.

Dean Yannis C. Yortsos of the Viterbi School said that the agreement with KOC reflected highly on the quality of the school’s petroleum engineering program, and was also an endorsement of the value of DEN, which implements in an important way USC’s vision to "create a significant global presence that will increase international visibility, reach, and impact of our research, scholarship and education."

"The contract has been renewed and we expect during the next two years at least 10-15 more KOC employees to receive degrees via the DEN course delivery system," added Ershaghi.

The students arrived a week before commencement, and attended classes that they had been viewing live in video transmission in person for the first time. “It wasn’t very different from DEN,” said Alzeabot.

Earlier this year, the Kuwait cultural attaché had visited to the DEN facility and spoke with the students while they were in Kuwait.

According to Ershaghi, the time-management skills current graduates are using to handle school work, full time job and family are setting the standards for the other KOC staff “and we are getting more applicants interested in this educational opportunity.”

KOC is one of the world's leading energy companies. With about 10% of the worlds oil reserves, KOC produces and transports crude oil and natural gas, and markets and distributes fuels and other energy products. KOC is based in Ahmadi City, Kuwait. More information is available at http://www.kockw.com