CAIRO: The Intel Corporation announced that it has partnered up with the Egyptian Education Initiative (EEI) to open several new computer training and development labs on five university campuses.
The facilities will be specifically designated towards research in multicore processing – a new form of computer technology that allows researchers to develop more energy efficient devices without necessarily compromising performance.
The research facilities will be constructed at five different public universities in Egypt: Cairo University, Alexandria University, the Information Technology Institute, Mansoura University, and Assiut University.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the EEI and Intel was signed last month during Intel CEO Paul Otellini’s first official visit to Egypt.
Last year the company undertook another development project at some of these schools by installing WiMax wireless technology on four campuses.
Samir Ibrahim Shaheen, dean of Cairo University’s Faculty of Computer Engineering, said that wireless was installed on the campus last year and that the multicore lab should be opened in time for the upcoming semester.
“Intel has been a great help to our computer training program, he told Daily News Egypt. “There has been a good relationship between Cairo University and Intel for the past three years. The training they provide has been especially crucial.
Shaheen continued, saying that Intel helped organize teacher training programs and even sent one teacher to a conference in Romania for a seminar on teaching multicore programming.
Intel will be providing the hardware equipment, software tools, and training for these new research centers.
Khaled Elamrawi, Intel’s general manager for Egypt, Levant, and North Africa, explained that the reason training was needed to ensure that these centers operate smoothly is that the professors’ and students’ expertise at these universities is often purely theoretical – with no knowledge of practical or experimental applications.
Because of a general lack of computing resources, students never learn the hands-on application of the computer theories that they study in school, which is what Intel’s training program will aim to do.
Elamrawi hopes that the centers will be places in which professors and their students will develop their own programs for multicore computers and will be hubs for rigorous research projects that focus on problems in the Egyptian software market.
“Intel has invested a lot of money in basic computer education at the K-12 level, he told Daily News Egypt. “Now we felt it was time to begin branching out into higher education and encouraging real research and development.
Intel currently has two significant projects underway in Egypt targeted specifically towards educating students and teachers on how to integrate computers into their lives.
One such program, Intel Teach, has already trained 80,000 Egyptian teachers in computer usage and hopes to train a total of 650,000 by 2010. A second program, Intel Learn, trained 75,000 students between the ages of eight and 16 on basic computer skills.
Elamrawi said that this progression, from basic to more advanced training in the research and development fields, is part of a long-term strategy that the Intel Corporation found to be effective in other regions of the world.
“When we first open a branch, we immediately start in sales and marketing, he said. “Then we start to invest in basic education. It’s a natural expansion cycle.
The Egypt, Levant, and North Africa branch of Intel opened five years ago. It has started similar education programs in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, and Turkey. The company has focused much of its regional efforts on Egyptian initiatives, said Elamrawi, due to Egypt’s strong cultural influence on the rest of the Middle East and North Africa and its high concentration of skilled labor.
He hopes that the multicore labs will be places in which researchers can start developing the technologies that will be best suited to Egypt and the Middle East region.
“I see Intel as having influence in two areas in Egypt, he said, “We want to help integrate technology into people’s lives to make them easier, more productive, and more effective. If we develop the computer base in this way we will also benefit the Egyptian economy, making it more productive.
“But we also want to have an impact on making Egypt a developer and exporter of computer technologies, he continued. “Egypt has a competitive advantage in the Middle East and we hope that it can become a leader in software and hardware development.
The Intel Corporation has approximately $100 million invested in these kinds of training and development programs around the world. A fair share of this money has been allocated to Egypt.
“Of course these projects are about corporate social responsibility, Elamrawi said. “But these initiatives also benefit the company. These students are all potential customers in the future.
Ultimately, Intel’s emphasis on education comes down to a belief in the value of education for the Egyptian people and their country, he added.
“It all starts with education, he said. “The growth of any country relies on education. It is imperative for Egypt to develop a well-trained labor force that can compete effectively in the 21st century.