CAIRO: Intel signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday with four universities covering wireless technology, entrepreneurship and academic forums.
The world s largest microchip manufacturer selected three public universities (Cairo, Alexandria and Ain Shams) and the American University of Cairo after evaluating a number of educational institutions in Egypt.
The universities join some 150 others globally that collaborate with Intel on research and curriculum development. Collaboration with Egyptian universities will focus on wireless technology through the donation of equipment in support of research as well as assistance on improving the educational curriculum.
Scholars from the chosen universities will also have the opportunity to attend Intel s academic forums, which take place periodically in various regions and discuss technology trends and challenges in specific technical areas.
The four universities were selected based on Intel s assessment of the significance of their research and their potential contribution to curriculum development, says Martina Roth, Intel s director of education for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Bassem Nasir, Intel s education manager for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, adds that the memorandum focuses on wireless technology because it is necessary in Egypt.
The government signed an agreement with South Korea last month for wireless broadband initiatives. Minister of Communications and Information Technology Tarek Kamel explained at the time that such technology facilitates the delivery of broadband services to rural areas.
Kamel s first deputy, Hoda Baraka, also explains that Intel is a key partner of the government and that the latest memorandum supports the ministry s incubator initiatives by preparing potential entrepreneurs during their education. However, Mariam Semeda, an analyst at the International Finance Corporation, previously told The Daily Star Egypt that the effectiveness of the government s incubator schemes is diminished due to their high cost; this is particularly relevant since startups are usually strapped for cash.
Supporting the improvement of educational curriculums complements Intel s investment in academic research and reflects the demand of academics. Samir Shahin, dean of the faculty of engineering at Cairo University, says that his institution has sought support from multinational companies for several years. In addition to wireless technology, Shahin explains that embedded systems, though not a major focus for Intel, are also an important area which will have high demand in the future. Embedded systems are specifically designed to control equipment such as cars and network devices in which they are built.
As a next step, Intel will work with the universities to identify the equipment that the company will provide, although it declined to indicate the financial magnitude of this contribution.
Roth adds that educational curriculums frequently lack depth in certain fields which are critical to Intel. For this reason, the company has worked with universities worldwide to develop recommendations on curriculums for key technologies, including wireless. The selected universities may choose adopt Intel s wireless curriculum and work with the company to localize and integrate the curriculum into their existing programs.
Intel s critique is not restricted to technical programs. Roth explains that entrepreneurship courses are generally focused on commercial aspects and rarely include a sufficient technical slant. To address this, Intel developed an accelerated entrepreneurship program based on the curriculum of the Hass School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Roth explains that this program is essentially a one-year crash course ns the core areas of business accompanied by a review of case studies.
The memorandum was signed after six months of discussions with universities and the Ministries of Higher Education and Communications and Information Technology. Mohammed Sheirah, advisor to the Minister of Higher Education, says that information technology is one of a handful of key fields that the government has decided to focus on in terms of education, adding that he hopes this initiative will be extended to universities outside the country s two main cities.