Speakers Abstracts

Automated Fabrication: Applications to Lebanon and the Middle East

Daniel Nammour

This study''s objective is to explore the potential advantages of introducing flexible manufacturing to Lebanon and the Middle East. The ultimate objective is the establishment of a new company that will have the capability of producing custom-made parts and molds for the plastic and metal industry. The first part of the study will cover the various branches of the automated manufacturing industry: the CAD softwares, laser scanners, CNC and rapid prototyping equipment available. The second part will cite the possible applications for Lebanon and the Middle East. The third and final part will cover the options that were found to be suitable and the first model for the establishment of an automated workshop in Lebanon.
Note: This talk is based on a research study made by a group of four engineers in order to start a new company in Lebanon that will be operational by the end of 1995.

Towards Establishing a Successful Software Industry in Lebanon

Walid S. Saba

The software industry is one of the fastest growing industries in North America. Increasingly, it is also the fastest growing industry in a number of developing countries, such as India. The reason that this is a unique industry that has the potential of growing in any part of the world is that it is basically an industry that does not require the huge capital and infrastructure required for manufacturing industries, for example. Software is basically an industry that requires little capital, but is a function of education level, technology awareness, and good organization and planning.
We believe that Lebanon has these resources, and as such we encourage the establishment of two types of activities: (i) local development of software tools, pioneered by local start-up companies, and (ii) software development for, or in co-operation with, outside software companies that would find the cost of software development in Lebanon attractive.

Reconstruction of the Lebanese Electric Power System
An MIT/AUB Collaborative Research Program
Assef A. Zobian

This is a brief description of the AUB/MIT collaborative research program on the reconstruction of the Lebanese Electrical Power System (LEPS). The main objectives of this project were: First, to better understand the operation of the existing system. With this aim, data on system parameters and various system components have been gathered and updated according to rehabilitation plans. Second, to analyze the current system problems, classify them and suggest different alternative methods to solve them or ameliorate the system. Third, to carry out a long-term study on the generation and transmission expansion of the LEPS. In order to achieve this objective, it was necessary to update and develop several software packages used as decision support tools. The fourth objective was to elaborate upon a set of technical and economic recommendations to achieve a more efficient operation and an optimal expansion of the LEPS, including the design of an efficient tariff structure. Finally, the last objective was to transfer the experience gained during this project to technical personnel in Lebanon.

Multimedia Technologies for the Reconstruction of Education in Lebanon
Wissam Ali-Ahmad

Lebanon, a small Middle-Eastern country, is known for having more than 20 universities and hundreds of high schools. The educational system in Lebanon is based on a strong curriculum combined from French, Arabic, and American standards. After the war, a need arose to look for new ways to enhance the educational system and put it on track again.
In 1991, the American University of Beirut started a new collaborative research program with MIT to study, research and develop new, computer-based multi-media technologies that will enhance education in Lebanon, and benefit educational computing research at MIT. This talk will describe the efforts achieved until now. We will talk about the projects accomplished at MIT and AUB, and their results. We will be showing the first release of the new software product that was developed jointly by the two universities and to which AUB made major contributions. AthenaMuse 2 is the new cross-platform authoring environment and is believed to have an important impact on the development of international networked multimedia courseware.

Energy Conservation Opportunities in Lebanon
Georges J. Malek

In 1973, the Arab oil embargo caused the West to seriously examine their energy consumption trends. Since then, governments and citizens have developed policies and technologies to increase energy efficiency and to conserve natural resources. After more than 22 years, many of these policies and technologies have either failed or simply withered. However, energy conservation is still in the forefront of the West's concerns, but is driven by environmental concerns and public health rather than by oil and other energy shortages. Lebanon, and the Arab World in general, were removed from any such efforts during the initial crisis but seem ready to join in this "second coming" of energy conservation.
This presentation provides an overview of the historical background in the West and in Lebanon. In addition, energy conservation opportunities, such as alternative fuels and energy efficient construction, in Lebanon will be examined.

The Environmental Imperative in Lebanon
Rania Masri

The environment in Lebanon has been exploited for centuries by people's ignorant rush for quick profits and in their basic disrespect of wildlife. If Lebanon continues to destroy its natural environment by deforesting, polluting and over-hunting, development and economic reconstruction will be almost meaningless since the very foundation for our lives would have crumbled. We cannot destroy the earth and then demand it to provide us with sustenance.
Eighteen birds, fifteen mammals, and three river fish have gone extinct in Lebanon in the last century. Numerous other animals are presently endangered, primarily due to pollution and hunting. Native plants are being lost due to road construction, housing, and the use of chemicals; in their place, weeds and thorn bushes are growing. Sea turtles are dying from the pollution and waste that is thrown into the Mediterranean Sea. Consequently, jelly fish are increasing dramatically. The balance of nature has been severely affected throughout Lebanon.
In response to the environmental problems and the relative stability in the country, three areas have been chosen to be protected as nature reserves by the United Nations. This presentation will briefly highlight some major environmental problems in Lebanon, discuss the UN proposal, and present several recommendations to assist in the rebuilding of our foundation, the protection of our environment.

Rebuilding Lebanon from Within
Joe Jabre, MD

The reconstruction of postwar Lebanon is being currently measured in economic and political terms. While these are necessary ingredients for Lebanon's reemergence as a country, they will prove short-lived if "Human" and "Community" reconstruction are not addressed. Indeed, this presentation will argue, that unlike the other two, these are the main ingredients for a "true" and long-lasting reconstruction and may well prove to be the only guarantees for its survival.

Biotechnology in Lebanon: Possibilities and Obstacles
Bassem A. Hassan

Lebanon and the Middle East stand at a threshold of dramatic changes. To become competitive economically, Lebanon needs to develop a comprehensive research ultrastructure that would fuel its uncertain entry into the 21st century. Among the fields that stand out as cutting edge, and, at the same time, almost a necessity, is biotechnology; the use of the molecular understanding of the basics of life to solve practical agricultural and health problems.
Biotechnology combines basic and applied research, and transcends the "traditional" boundaries of focused science. It is necessarily interdisciplinary, and requires expertise with an extremely wide range. In this presentation, it is my aim to discuss the potential of the development of biotechnology in Lebanon, as well as the existing and foreseeable obstacles to such an endeavor.

Internet in Lebanon
Alexandre Khalil

This presentation will examine the opportunities for providing Internet in Lebanon. In the first part of the talk, the current state of affairs, specifically Sodetel, AUB and Cavalcom, will be discussed. Then, the future of the Internet will be presented, exploring the avenues available through Inteltec, its competitors and the efforts of AUB/ALPA.

Speech Technology and the Lebanese Scientific and Business Communities
Ibrahim Bechwati and Nabil Bitar

Speech recognition and text-to-speech systems, currently developed in many languages, are beginning to take their places with other scientific advances in improving lifestyle in general. For instance, text-to-speech systems are helping handicapped people, namely the blind and the deaf, in facing some of the challenges that stand in their way of leading normal life. Also, text-to-speech system is a part of a very complex human-machine interface technology that is based on the speech recognition science. This interface technology is providing a wide range of hand-free applications, such as dictation systems, that are quite common in the medical and business communities and are recently being introduced to the public. Voice activation process, or voice commands, is another speech recognition based application, which is commonly used in providing telephone services and is being tested in the implementation of an automated airline reservation system.
These few applications provide the motivation for introducing these latest advances in speech technologies to the Lebanese scientific and business communities. The key elements of a successful implementation of these technologies in Arabic include a solid understanding of the Phonetics and the natural process of the Arabic language. Phonetics, the study and systematic classification of the sounds made in spoken utterance, will be used in the construction of a large data base for initiating the speech analysis. Finally, we believe that the benefits of these applications to the Lebanese communities certainly overweighs the difficulties of their initiation in the Arabic language.

Is SCL a Social Group?
Samer Faraj

I will be talking about how the net (Internet-type services) was initially designed for people to access resources and to share information. However, over time it has become clear that individuals are using the net more and more as a social technology to find and communicate with people, connect and interact with others with similar interests, and to build community. I will provide results of a study of several groups on the net, including SCL. Final comments will address the importance of this technology as a factor of development for Lebanon and neighboring countries.

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