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Cadence Academic Network is a worldwide activity; therefore, the team members are often traveling to quite exotic places on earth to visit universities, talk with the professors, and tell them what Academic Network can offer them. One of the most exotic places which I’ve visited so far is King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.
KAUST is a completely new city, which was literally built on desert sand. To get there one has to fly to Jeddah, then take a taxi from the airport and, after a 106km drive through the desert and two checkpoints, the city of KAUST opens its doors.
The decision to build KAUST was made by King Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz, who invested several billion dollars in the university. The university opened in 2009 and around 1200 students from more than 60 countries in the world are matriculated there; half of them are locals. The university is for graduate students only, the teaching language is English. All the students are on scholarship for the whole duration of the studies, while the acceptance rate is in the range of 5-7%.
KAUST is attracting also professors from the non-Islamic world by providing them more personal freedom compared to the rest of the country. A cinema is available, woman are allowed to drive cars and they don’t have to cover themselves with veils, and the classes are mixed-gender.
The microelectronics team at KAUST consists of Professor Hossein Fariborzi, Professor Muhammad Mustafa Hussein, Professor Atif Shamim, and Professor Khaled Nabil Salama. The team does around a dozen tapeouts a year, which makes it one of the most advanced microelectronics groups in Saudi Arabia. The equipment of the university is impressive, with state-of-the-art cleanroom and systems for imaging and characterization. This is reflected in the international university ranking, which counts citations from universities.
Cadence Academic Network is working quite closely with KAUST, providing them with academic licenses and services. In the past Cadence provided consultancy services, expert support, and training. Recently, we provided a 5-day Virtuoso front-to-back and RF workshop to the students, which was very warmly received. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with KAUST and other Saudi Arabian institutions. Recently, the Saudi Arabian government announced the 2030 vision, where microelectronics play an important role.