Xuewei Zhang

Power Up Jordan: Piloting a Virtual Training Program and Idea-A-Thon on Emerging Technologies for Jordanian Youth

The long-term, overarching goal of the project “Power Up Jordan” is to upgrade the employment prospects of Jordanian youth by increasing their exposure to the trends of global technology development. Toward this goal, the initial phase of the project includes the design and piloting of a virtual platform to engage Jordanian college students and other college-age young people in learning emerging technologies in energy, telecommunication, computing, and other industries, with a special focus on their relevance and implications to the Jordanian communities. Those who complete the training program are eligible to team up and participate in an online competition (Idea-A-Thon), in which each team is asked to identify a problem in their community and use what they learned from the training program to propose innovative solutions. In this talk, the design, implementation, and preliminary assessment of the virtual training program and an Idea-A-Thon) is presented. At the design stage, we will introduce our effort to highlight the connections between the emerging technologies and the Jordanian society. At the implementation stage, we will share the experience in solving practical problems such as language barriers, international collaboration, participant persistence, etc. At the assessment stage, we will make some reflections on the project activities and present our perspectives on the transferability and sustainability of the initiative.

Xuewei Zhang received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) in 2007 and 2009 and Ph.D. degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA, USA) in 2014, all in Electrical Engineering. His research background is within the fields of high voltage engineering and plasma physics. Starting 2021, he is an associate professor (tenured) in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Texas A&M University, Kingsville (Kingsville, TX, USA). Since joining the current employer in 2015, he has been the core faculty member of the newly launched Ph.D. Program in Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering and has so far supervised 4 Ph.D. dissertations. In recent years, he has also been the director of several engineering education projects involving curriculum improvement, work-based training, and virtual learning programs.