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headshot of Abdulrahman Alghamdi
Abdulrahman A. Alghamdi

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) PhD student received a major international honor. Abdulrahman A. Alghamdi is the recipient of a scholarship from Saudi Arabia so impactful he said upon receiving it he felt like “life has somehow just begun.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia awards the scholarship to Saudi students majoring in medicine, engineering or qualitative scientific research who have successfully completed their first semester of a PhD program with a 4.0 GPA. The scholarship is managed and administered by the Cultural Mission of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and includes the following benefits:

  • Full tuition and other relevant required academic fees from spring 2021 to spring 2023
  • Full and comprehensive health insurance (medical and dental) with no deductible to the student and their family

“There were no words to express my feelings,” Alghamdi said. “On that day, I woke up on a call saying that I got the scholarship; I couldn’t believe it! I felt somewhat chosen, and there was a huge feeling of relief. I felt the financial issues no longer matter, especially that my wife and my son live with me. The scholarship gave me a boost to morale and confidence in my ability to work toward a better future.”

PhD research focuses on self-driving cars

Alghamdi’s PhD research is focused on Connected Automated Shared Electrified (CASE) infrastructure planning to prepare for a future of self-driving vehicles, under the guidance of Associate Professor Guohui Zhang.

“Abdulrahman is an excellent PhD student who is passionate about in-depth research in the field of CASE vehicle-enabled transportation infrastructure planning,” Zhang said. “His dedication, enthusiasm and commitment substantially distinguish him from his peers. His preliminary studies and research findings have greatly enhanced our current understanding of CASE transportation system deployment and will significantly contribute to the state of the art to improve our daily transportation operation efficiency and safety performance in the near future.”

Alghamdi is also president of the UH student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He earned his bachelor of science in civil engineering (fall 2018) and master of science in civil engineering (summer 2020) from UH Mānoa. He says the university is “designed around the realms of positivity, happiness, engagement and well-being.”

“I came in 2017 as a transfer student. In the beginning, I faced many problems that just seemed impossible at first. Still, I found the faculty, from the CEE department’s chair to staff members, make a great effort to connect with us and spend the vast majority of their time teaching and interacting with us,” Alghamdi said. “When I started my master’s, I found the same thing and more where I received several constructive criticisms over the duration of my degree. I was capable of taking constructive criticism and translating that into action.”

Alghamdi’s scholarship is a significant stepping stone for UH Mānoa’s College of Engineering because the Middle East’s future engineering market has vast potential in developing urban infrastructures—especially those related to basic natural resources, such as food, energy and water—which are expected to be socioeconomically sustainable.

This research and award are examples of UH Mānoa’s goals of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF) and Enhancing Student Success (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

—By Marc Arakaki

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