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CoSEM CDT student presents at TEDxUWE

Headshot of Asaad Biqai

Image of PhD student Asaad Biqai on a stage in front of a presentation with an image of Albert Einstein and the quote: 'it's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer'.

PhD student Asaad Biqai presents on stage at TEDxUWE

21 June 2023

Ph.D. student Asaad Biqai presents at TEDxUWE.

On 16 June, Asaad Biqai, a Ph.D. student in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing, gave a talk at TEDxUWE. The event, themed "Bags and Baggages", was open to the public at Arnolfini.

TedxUWE: Bags and Baggages discussed ideas and proffered solutions for students who feel they do not belong to change the narrative in higher education and work on reducing the awarding gap issue.

Asaad Biqai, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, is a current Ph.D. student and Structural Engineer who has worked on several international consultancies and played a role in designing over 20 buildings, culverts, bridges, and other types of infrastructure. Biqai was recognized in the Palestinian educational highlights for 2022 and was the top student in the civil engineering department. He received full scholarships for studying and conducting research from various governments, including the UK, Netherlands, France, UAE, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Poland.

Biqai's talk was titled: "Learn to Appreciate Problems" where he discussed some of the problems minorities go through. He discussed some personal stories that he has gone through as a refugee and gave some suggestions for others.

He had this to say about the talk: "The talk is titled as such to highlight various types of problems, including those that result from your choices and mistakes, as well as those that arise due to your identity. The first type of problem teaches you about your mistakes, weaknesses, and areas for improvement, ultimately making you a better individual. The second type of problem can be painful but has the potential to make you stronger and more resilient. The talk highlighted that how a transition happened to change someone that got a scholarship, then got visa rejection, then got a PhD funding then got another rejection, then got a job opportunity at a multinational company, then wasn’t able to apply for the visa because he has a Palestinian refugees travel document. However, one year later, at the age of 23, they successfully obtained PhD funding, scholarships, and research positions from nine different countries, including the UK, Netherlands, France, UAE, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and Poland. Additionally, he received job offers from seven companies and worked at four of them, contributing to the design of over ten structures, including buildings, bridges, and culverts across Lebanon, KSA, UAE, Qatar, Africa, and the USA. Ultimately, it all comes down to appreciating the problems, learning from them, and empowering oneself through these experiences."

Biqai is also an activist for refugees and a volunteer and Co-Founder at different humanitarian NGOs. He was selected to lead the development of a project that supports and helps Nigerian students in conducting research, which is powered by a society at Cambridge University. Additionally, he served as the student representative of the engineering department and was a part of the research committee at Beirut Arab University. 

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Further information

The CoSEM CDT (established in 2019) has evolved from the highly successful and established ACCIS CDT (2014-2024) to address exciting doctoral training opportunities for multidisciplinary composite materials engineering and manufacture.

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