Texas A&M at Qatar’s Nayef Alyafei named Alumnus of the YearPublished Jun 12, 2018
Dr. Nayef Alyafei, a Class of 2009 petroleum engineering graduate of Texas A&M University at Qatar, has been named the branch campus’s Alumnus of the Year for 2018.
Alyafei is an assistant professor in the Petroleum Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar — the same academic program in which he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2009. He went on to pursue graduate studies at Imperial College London, completing his Ph.D. in 2015 and then returning to Qatar to join the Texas A&M at Qatar faculty.
Alyafei is described as “exemplary teacher” who “teaches with extreme passion, care and concern for his students” and “truly symbolizes the mission of Texas A&M in Qatar.” Alyafei is popular with students because of his commitment to seeing them succeed and he has developed a new technical elective course in enhanced oil recovery for the Petroleum Engineering Program. One colleague — and one of his own former professors — said that Alyafei views teaching his most valuable contribution to the young generation of his beloved homeland, Qatar.
He has also volunteered to serve as faculty mentor during the past two Texas A&M at Qatar Summer Engineering Academies, leading teams of high school students to first-place finishes each year — an indication of the effort and enthusiasm he places on mentorship. The students he mentored during these programs said that he introduced them to the challenges of being a university student while giving the students solutions to overcome these difficulties. In that way, they said, he serves his country by helping future generations follow the right path and climb the ladder of success.
Alyafei is also a respected researcher, working on cutting-edge research projects funded by the Qatar National Research Foundation and mentoring undergraduate researchers who work with him in his lab. He also chairs the student integrity committee and he has reinforced several changes to the curriculum to highlight the Aggie Honor Code, which reads, “Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.”
“This award means a lot,” Alyafei said. “I am actually a product of this university, which is why the students look up to me because I am just like them. It is a very big responsibility because I always need to do my best and deliver my very best. I do this for the students so in the future, the students can aspire to be someone like me and work just as hard. I always try to be their role model and always be there for them and give them whatever I can. Being a faculty member at Texas A&M at Qatar is the best job ever because we first-hand give back to our students and actually see their progress. I am at this event today with my students and we are celebrating the same tradition — being an alumnus. We are all a part of the same Aggie spirit.”
Dr. César Octavio Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “Dr. Nayef Alyafei was one of the first of graduates of Texas A&M at Qatar to earn a Ph.D. and is the very first to return to the university he loves as a faculty member. In everything he does — whether in the classroom or the lab or in his volunteer service — Nayef leads by example. He has taken on responsibility for educating future generations of engineering leaders in Qatar, and we are proud to call him an Aggie engineer. He truly embodies the Texas A&M core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. We are proud of all that he is achieved and all that we know he will achieve in his career.”
Alyafei was recognized during the third annual Texas A&M at Qatar Alumni Suhoor, which was organized in collaboration with the Texas A&M at Qatar Alumni Council. Almost 200 faculty and former students of Texas A&M at Qatar attended the event, which aimed to encourage graduates to connect and stay involved with the branch campus.
Haitham Al-Haidari ’15, chair of the Alumni Council, said the council aims to connect alumni with the university and the current student body.
“Alumni definitely are a very important piece of the role the university plays in serving Qatari society and the community,” Al-Haidari said. “We are that missing piece that brings back our professional experience to students and really give back to our university after we graduate. Events like these are very important so people can reconnect. Everyone feels like they belong in this university, and this event is one time Aggies can experience this feeling of being together.”
The alumni suhoor also focused on the Al Shaheen Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to students studying at Texas A&M at Qatar. This scholarship fund creates an opportunity for current and former employees of the Qatar campus — as well as graduates of the university — to contribute directly to the education of young people in Qatar.