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AlFaisal – Carnegie Mellon Innovation Entrepreneurship Center incubates first project; Student-centered application designed to enhance university experience

AlFaisal – Carnegie Mellon Innovation Entrepreneurship Center incubates first project; Student-centered application designed to enhance university experience

The AlFaisal–Carnegie Mellon Innovation Entrepreneurship Center is now incubating its first project: Metis, an application that helps university students plan their courses so they will be in the best career position when they graduate.

Metis is the creation of a team of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) alumni Sabih Bin Wasi, Rukhsar Neyaz Khan and Jiyda Moussa. The team describes Metis as a tool for students to tailor their education according to career goals and interests. A second interface allows advisers to view the students’ plans and provide input, and a third allows the university administration to input updated information on courses and class schedules.

Metis is the first project for the AlFaisal–Carnegie Mellon Innovation Entrepreneurship Center, a collaborative initiative with a mission to foster an entrepreneurial environment in Education City. The center was launched in the fall of 2015 by His Excellency Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, chairman of AlFaisal Without Borders Foundation, and Ilker Baybars, dean and CEO of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, to promote innovation entrepreneurship through education, programs, and an incubation process that provides resources and mentorship.

The idea for Metis first came to Sabih Bin Wasi in his first year at CMU-Q. “I have a passion to change things that affect me, and I saw how course selection can have a huge impact on where you end up when you graduate,” he said. During his time at CMU-Q, he gathered a multi-disciplinary team to develop the project. In 2014, Sabih participated in a field trip to Silicon Valley organized by CMU-Q, won the Al Fikra business plan competition, and was accepted, along with his team members, as the first incubated project at the Innovation Entrepreneurship Center. Funding for the project was provided by Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) through its accelerator program.

An undergraduate degree program consists of a set of core courses, as well as several electives in a wide range of subjects. These electives can help shape the student’s education and the transition into the workforce after graduation. Working through Metis will help students determine what courses to take and when to take them.

“The challenge for us is the question, ‘how do we make students love it?’ We spend a lot of our time learning about how students think, which may be different for a business student or a biological sciences student. It’s a purpose-driven approach,” said Bin Wasi.

Overseeing Metis’ incubation is Hakim, who came to CMU-Q after nearly two decades in Silicon Valley. In the Middle East, with its nascent entrepreneurial sector, new graduates have a hard time finding mentorship and guidance. The AlFaisal–Carnegie Mellon Innovation Entrepreneurship Center will help fill that gap. “The incubation phase is not really about the idea, it’s about the team. If we can help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset, innovation leadership skills, and the nuts and bolts of building successful startups, they will be well-positioned for careers as entrepreneurs.”

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