In June 2016, Muna Al Mohannadi, an Engineering Specialist in the Reservoir Depletion Studies section of RasGas Company, was named the first-ever Alumnus of the Year by Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), a partner university of Qatar Foundation (QF). Al Mohannadi was nominated and chosen for the award for her workplace success and her contributions to the branch campus. Since graduating from TAMUQ, she has been an active and visible member of the local Society of Petroleum Engineers community.
She has also been proactively supportive of the petroleum engineering program at TAMUQ through her involvement in the Petroleum Engineering Industry Advisory Board, as well as her contributions to senior student design projects and poster presentations. Speaking to The Foundation, Al Mohannadi described her reaction to the honor, and the importance she placed on giving back to TAMUQ and QF
Q Can you tell us what winning this inaugural award from TAMUQ means to you, having been a Class of 2010 graduate?
A When Dr Mike Bowman, Program Chair, Petroleum Engineer, TAMUQ, initially told me that I had been nominated for this award, it was an amazing feeling. And when I heard my name being read out, I felt very lucky. I think the main driver behind the decision to name me the Alumnus of the Year award was based on the contributions I have made to TAMUQ since I graduated. Of course, these contributions were all voluntary – I could never have known that such an award would be created, or that I would become the first recipient. Many top representatives from RasGas joined me that night, so I felt supported both inside and outside the university. While this award is a great honor for me, there is no time for me to sit back. I always feel that a lot is expected of me, and I always expect better from myself in return, so this award motivates me to give even more to the community. Whenever I feel appreciated, either at university or at my workplace, it makes me want to perform better than before.
Q There are some people who graduate from a university, and that is the end of their relationship with that institution. Why has it been important for you to retain close ties with TAMUQ, and join the Engineering Petroleum Industry Advisory Board?
A It has always been important to me, as has becoming part of the recently formed Petroleum Engineering Alumni Advisory Board. Being a student could be tough at times, and when times were stressful I would sometimes wish there was a TAMUQ alumni who could help guide me. In the public-facing contributions that I have made after graduation, whether I am delivering a talk or judging student efforts, I try to have face-to-face conversations with the students. They tell me about clarifications they might need, or doubts they may have but are hesitant to say aloud in front of their fellow students. I am always willing to help them. It can be strange, however, to return to TAMUQ and see my former professors. They treat me like a professional now, but I still feel a student when I am around them!
Q Can you describe what skills that you learned during your time at TAMUQ and at Education City have since helped you in your career? Are these qualities that you rely upon every day at RasGas?
A Other than technical knowledge, which is the foundation of all the work I currently apply as an engineering specialist, I learned a lot of skills that helped me in different aspects toward my career progression. Firstly, I learned communication skills that helped me to effectively present myself and my ideas to others. I also learned volunteering skills and worked as a lab assistant, where I got the chance to interact with many TAMUQ students from different academic levels.
This helped me to form strong relationships and earn a good reputation among my professors, which helped me to create the connection I have with TAMUQ post-graduation. That was one of the reasons I always wanted to come back, as I know many of the people working and/or studying at TAMUQ.
The dynamic I now have with my former professors is what created the main connection bridge. They invite me to most of their alumni-related events and talks, and view me as an inspiring graduate. As a way of giving back to petroleum engineering program within TAMUQ, I do my best to attend and provide the required help or advice whenever needed. I always try to ensure that I work on myself to prove their vision and be able to inspire and positively impact all students in general, and female engineers specifically.
Q Do you believe that through your workplace success and some of the honors you have received, you are a role model for the younger generation?
A Since I was young, I have always wanted to be in a position later in life where I am known for doing something good, so that I could inspire people. As a Qatari lady working under the umbrella of petroleum engineering and its various fields, I always want to set a good example for others to follow.
If I succeed and can influence young girls in Qatar, perhaps that will make them realize what is possible for their future. I think there is a stereotype that engineering is a very tough field and is male-dominated, but I think that should be considered an outdated assumption. Certainly the work is not easy in my field, but regardless of gender, if you are a hard worker, you will achieve your objectives as long as you are willing to push yourself.
Q Is teaching an area that you see yourself in the future?
As you may know, in 2015, Dr Nayef Alyafei, Assistant Professor, Petroleum Engineering, TAMUQ, became the first graduate from the university to earn a PhD and return to his alma mater.
AI know Dr Nayef very well – he graduated the year before me. One of my dreams is to teach one day, specifically at TAMUQ. This is not something I am chasing right now, but is something I want to pursue once I have acquired a substantial amount of technical expertise from working within the industry. When I have what I consider a very solid technical background and a PhD, I will know that I’m ready to return to TAMUQ, and give back to the university and QF.