Heriot-Watt University

On Tuesday afternoon on October 4th we went to our second excursion at the Heriot-Watt University. Here we were welcomed by the Director of Civil Engineering dr. Pouriah Hafiz. He led us onto the first floor were we were also welcomed by Director of Research at Heriot-Watt University dr. Mustafa Batikha and two PhD-students in the field of Civil Engineering. 

The first presentation was given by dr. Hafiz were he explained the history of the HW-University which mainly lies in the United Kingdom, mainly Edinburgh, where it was established in 1821. Nowadays, the HW-University has three campusses. These are in Edinburgh in the UK, Dubai in the UAE, and Malaysia. 

Afterwards, we got some information about the faculties at the university. The faculties and the focusses at the HW-University were fairly similar to the focusses at the UT. However, what became apparent was the strong push for publishing scientific research and going to conferences and other international meetings. Also, a striking difference is that master’s students are always parttime students besides their fulltime job. This sounded very exhausting as dr. Batikha explained how full-time employees from Abu Dhabi come to Dubai for an evening lecture where they return to Abu Dhabi at 00:00. 

The 10 main research topics at this research are fairly broad but innovative. Examples are natural-based solutions in construction, net-zero buildings, renewable energy, and tall buildings. dr. Batikha explained that after the announcement of holding the EXPO 2020 in Dubai the main focusses of the research at HW-University changed a bit. More focus was put of sustainability, renewable energy, and innovation for example. 

The students enrolled at the Heriot-Watt University in Dubai came from all over the world as they have. In a talk with dr. Mustafa Batikha, he explained that they have students enrolled from at least 92 different countries

The university moved into this campus in 2021, and that was apparent. The campus itself looked modern and had some state of the art technology. After two presentations (which we finished off by a delicious cup of coffee and juice with some brownies and muffins) we were shown around the building where we visited the civil engineering labs. In these labs, students and researchers do research materials to be used in Civil Engeering. These labs are the Structural lab, electrical lab, soil lab, and concrete lab.

Finally, we finished off the day by taking a picture with dr. Hafiz, dr. Batikha, and the two PhD-students. It was enlighting to see some of the same urgent issues to be the topic of discussion at the HW-University as well. Also, their research focus on tall buildings was interesting, since they believe this is the answer to rapid urbanization while conserving agricultural land. Dubai is visibly putting this knowledge into practice with a lot of skyscrapers. This is a striking difference to the Netherlands.