Dr. Muhammad Al-Saggaf is the 6th President of KFUPM, and the first since the University became independent. He is an alum of KFUPM, MIT, and Harvard Business School. He started his career at KFUPM then spent 30 years in the industry at Saudi Aramco, before re-joining the University in January 2020.
He holds a B.S. degree in mathematics from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) with Highest Honors, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an MBA from KFUPM. He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development.
Dr. Al-Saggaf received several international awards, including the J. Clarence Karcher Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG); the Lester C. Uren Technical Excellence Award and the Distinguished Member Award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE); and the Eisenhower Fellowship. He is one of the very few worldwide who has achieved international recognition in both geoscience and petroleum engineering. Dr. Al-Saggaf has authored several refereed technical papers and founded and edited a new technical journal.
His priorities at KFUPM are to revamp the academic and research programs in line with national and global trends such that it can lead technology development, and prepare the talent required for the future local and global economies. Under his leadership, KFUPM overhauled all its academic curricula to be based on an AI+X platform; introduced new degrees such as materials science and engineering, bioengineering, integrated design, and smart and sustainable cities; added 40 concentrations (subdisciplines) in exciting topics such as AI, cybersecurity and blockchains, hydrogen mobility, and others; introduced 35 industry-linked master’s degrees in topics such as data science, robotics, quantum computing, and others. During his tenure, the research program has been overhauled to focus on the goal of social impact and improving the human condition, emphasizing inter-disciplinary work to foster a more connected academic culture.
Under his leadership, the university introduced female students for the first time, comprising 40% of the intake in engineering disciplines. KFUPM also saw a significant rise in its global standing over this period, moving into #160 in the QS global ranking and #228 in the Times Higher Education ranking (from #578 three years ago). Moreover, KFUPM has become #6 worldwide in petroleum engineering, #16 in mining engineering, #54 in chemical engineering, #70 in electrical engineering, #59 in civil engineering, and #81 in mechanical engineering – all from a modest start.
Dr. Al-Saggaf believes that the boundaries between science and engineering are artificial and should be dissolved, and that academic institutions must constantly change in order to be ahead of technology development and lead it; for example, KFUPM has already graduated two cohorts in quantum computing.
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