AUC Celebrates the Beginning of its Second Century
The American University in Cairo (AUC) celebrated this week the beginning of its new century at AUC New Cairo Campus. Established in 1919, AUC started its centennial celebrations in February last year focusing on the University’s past and deep-rooted history in Egypt and the region. This year, AUC is focusing on the future and its plans in the next 100 years with “Be the Future” as its overarching theme.
Yesterday, at the closing of AUC’s Centennial Celebration Week, Rana el Kaliouby, '98, '00, PhD, AUC Trustee and co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, the global leader in emotion sensing and analytics, delivered a talk about artificial intelligence titled "Artificial Intelligence: Humanizing Technology". The talk was moderated by Abdelhameed Sharara, Founder and CEO of RiseUp Summit.
Guests had the chance to watch the new centennial video, after which the AUC portal came to life in a unique 3D mapping experience and fireworks lit up the night sky.
At the closing ceremony, Richard Bartlett, chairman of AUC’s Board of Trustees, shared how AUC founders had a vision for a bigger campus for the University and how the Board of Trustees took the historic decision in 1994 to move the University to a newer, larger space on the outskirts of Cairo. He explained that the plans to develop a vision for the University on its 100th anniversary started almost 25 years ago.
“Tonight, we celebrate on this beautiful plaza, grateful to our founders and satisfied that our ambitions for our 100th anniversary were met, and as this celebration of our centennial comes to an end, we are already planning for our next 100 years. We kicked off a new strategic plan to consider the needs of our campus for the next chapter of the University’s evolution,” he said.
Looking forward to expanding AUC’s legacy for a second century with the future generations of AUC, President Francis Ricciardone highlighted the importance of widening access to an AUC education. By following the examples of generous AUC supporters, whose names are on many of the buildings on campus, “there is a way we can all be here in spirit in one hundred years from now. These buildings are named after people who have given the gift of an AUC education to people who may not have been able to afford it, and every AUC student who comes here enjoys a part of that gift. Let’s continue our support of AUC.”
The Future of Design
As part of the University’s Centennial Celebration Week, AUC Graphic Design Program organized a conference on the Future Design & Design Future and an exhibition titled: “The Future of Design: What's Next?”. The conference addressed new local and regional movements in design practices and creative industries and brought together design practitioners and scholars to share their experiences and thoughts on the role of design as a practice to understand and solve existing challenges, influence, bridge communities, and contribute to the widely shared vision for a future-oriented sustainable society.
“We are addressing the challenges that students of design might face in the future,” said Ghalia Srakbi, chair of the Graphic Design Department at AUC. The exhibition includes highlights of the best design projects produced by AUC design students over the last five years. “It also features 30 notable and upcoming designers and projects in Egypt and the region and falls under the following categories: Design for Social Equality and Impact, Design for Education, Re-imagining Cultural Heritage and Crafts, Design for a sustainable environment and Design for future experiences,” said Srakbi.
The weeklong celebration started on Saturday with a Community Carnival that encompassed a wide range of activities and shows. From virtual reality to digital graffiti, the Carnival delved into the future, with Sci-Tech Hub and centennial labs. The event also included an international food festival organized by the Student Union and a scavenger hunt throughout the campus. The Centennial Celebration week was attended by AUC students, alumni and their friends, in addition to public figures from Egypt and the region.
100 Years of Fashion Evolution
One of the highlights of the week’s events was the live runway show executed by AUC alumni and students presenting “100 Years of Fashion Evolution”. Ghadir El Agabany, AUC alumna and the fashion director of the show, said: “It is significant to direct such a huge show of AUC talents in diverse industries and fields of business. I have always wanted to participate in AUC grand events through workshops or shows and this is a golden opportunity to be part of the centennial celebration”. She added that “students’ designs were extremely expressive of their ambition and outlook to life.”
AUC’s professor of arts, Naglaa Samir said that senior graphic design students in the past five years showed a contemporary approach to fashion design, “so we offered a course for fashion design, not in the commercial sense but rather on a conceptual level. In the show, students’ futuristic designs focused on the challenges of the future and tackled issues such as pollution and AI.”
At the carnival, visitors had the chance to visit some of AUC’s centennial labs that tackle several issues from innovation and education to technology and architecture. “Creativity is crucial in AUC’s educational philosophy. We try to visualize the future, to open new doors of learning and to acquiring new skills,” said Alaa Eldin Edris, associate provost for research, innovation and creativity at AUC.
“To enrich the students’ experience in the computer science field, AUC launched the Systems Lab, to conduct cutting-edge research in computational and networking systems,” he added. This lab explores contemporary topics in computer science and engineering, such as blockchain technology, mobile and pervasive computing systems, and cybersecurity.
Other centennial labs include the Interdisciplinary Centennial Lab for Innovation and Technology in Education, Behavioral and Economic Decision-Making Lab and Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics (BIG).
“We want to make a difference in the Egyptology field, so we launched the Digital Egyptology Lab to meet the needs of heritage practitioners through the integration of technology into their training to ensure that Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is digitally documented — leading to better preservation and easier accessibility,” said Edris.
At the Carnival, visitors had the chance to live a virtual reality experience, AUC 2120, which is a futuristic interpretation of the architecture and design of AUC after 100 years. Alumni, faculty and students joined forces and tapped into their creative minds to create this experience.
Naglaa Samir, professor of Arts at AUC, said: “The five-minute 360 video is a joint collaboration between the architecture and design students to explore the future and it is a result of the work conducted in the NextARCH Centennial Lab. It is also a collaborative work with one of our notable alumni, Hashim Amir, who is specialized in VR.”
AUC Carnival and Centennial Nights are sponsored by Al Masry al Youm, Ahram Online, Al Ahram Weekly, Cairo East, Cairo West and Cairo Central, Daily News Egypt, Al Borsa, Economy Plus. The official digital sponsor is 925 and the Official Radio Sponsor is Nile FM.