New Faculty Profile: Farqad AlKhal, Engineering
In coming back to the Middle East and taking up her current position as visiting professor in the Engineering Management Program at FEA, Farqad AlKhal was making a deliberate career change, moving from research and consultancy back to teaching and research. After earning her BS in electrical and computer engineering at Kuwait University, she went on to take her MS in operations research at Stanford University, and her PhD in industrial engineering and operations research at Purdue University in 1998.
Although she started her career in academia teaching mathematics and computer science at the University of the United Arab Emirates at Al-Ain, between May 1997 and September 2000, she was actively engaged in research and consultancy work in her field of specialization, operations research. With the State Utility Forecasting Group she researched mathematical modeling of the electricity trade in Indiana; with a consultancy firm in California, she worked on a project to develop a revenue management system for a major cargo transportation company.
Then in 1999, back in Kuwait she acted as department manager of the Economic Policies and Planning Department and assistant research scientist in the Techno-Economics Division of the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research. Here she prepared strategic plans and revised the departmental program, worked on optimal utilization of manpower and budget, studied optimal test well network design for monitoring underground water pollution in Kuwait, and studied work flow automation and the improvement of decision making for teachers.
But, after this work as consultant and researcher, with a strong commitment to teaching and research, Professor AlKhal decided to return to the classroom in the career move which brought her to AUB.
In the FEA AlKhal teaches students from a variety of programs, all with an engineering background. She sees her task as helping decision makers and planners through teaching undergraduate engineers how to make economically sound decisions. During the current academic year she taught courses in engineering economy and systems analysis and optimization. She has also been introducing new courses. "It takes a lot of work," she said, "but I find my whole life involved. I'm much more absorbed in this job. . . . I'm like a student again, wearing a backpack, staying in the office until 11 pm, working on weekends . . . ." Professor AlKhal chose AUB because of FEA's generous policies on research and teaching hours. She is working on artificial neural network-based models for forecasting and on applications of optimization in water contamination monitoring and remediation. She is also interested in developing and numerically testing global optimization algorithms.
Despite her dedication to her work AlKhal takes time to enjoy the quiet and beauty of the campus and the many cultural events offered at AUB and in the city. A hiker, swimmer, and "would-be" skier, Professor AlKhal also enjoys reading, particularly history, theology, and comparative religion.