Organizing for Arab American Professional Excellence

AAAEA.jpgArab Americans are an integral part of America's growth and success, with individuals from the community leading in a range of professional fields from science and medicine, to engineering and architecture and beyond.  The Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects (AAAEA) is one of the many professional organizations in the United States that mobilizes Arab American professionals in their respected fields. AAAEA is dedicated to helping professionals and students in the fields of engineering, architecture and computer science network with one another via various social, technical and educational events. In an interview, Maher Abdel-qader, a co-founder and current President of the Tri-state area chapter of AAAEA, spoke about their mission, how they organize their members around issues that are important to Arab Americans and the organization’s annual gala.

Abdel-qader stressed AAAEA’s mission of changing the stereotype of what it means to be an Arab American. Through organizing and consolidating the members of this the AAAEA, he aims to prove that Arab Americans are a community of high caliber professionals. A recent AAI poll attests that “native born and immigrant Arab Americans have a higher level of educational achievement (46%) than the average U.S. population (28%).” Of the American labor force, 66% are Arab American, with only a 5% unemployment rate. These numbers show that Arab Americans, 94% of which live in metropolitan areas, are committed to prioritizing their economic investments in this country.     

One of AAAEA’s primary objectives is to organize their members so that highly qualified Arab American professionals get the chance to get to know one another on a professional and personal level. The non-political, non-profit organization focuses on the status of the industry and the job market for the fields of engineering and architecture. They also look to encourage Arab American students who may be interested in pursuing a career in the engineering, architecture, or computer science fields to continue their studies. AAAEA aims to give its members the opportunity to meet with some of the top individuals in their field. One of the ways they inspire students is by awarding as many as eight scholarships every year. Students who apply must have a grade point average of at least B or B+ and be an in an undergraduate, graduate, or a PhD program. More information on the scholarship can be found here.

Each year AAAEA holds their annual gala, a social event for community and a special occasion to name and award scholarship recipients. This year’s 9th annual gala will be held in Staten Island, New York on Nov. 15.  The organization will award at least five students with scholarships. Keynote speakers for the dinner will include Wallace Caban, Chief of Construction as the Port Authority of NY and NJ’s engineering department; Dr. Feniosky Pena-Mora, commissioner at the NYC Department of Design and Construction; and Steven Santoro, the Assistant Executive Director at Capital Planning and Programs at NJ Transit. This year’s dinner gala will also feature comedian Dean Obeidallah as the entertainment for the night. 

Although AAAEA is non-political, they work to establish personal relationships with politically active organizations like the Arab American Institute and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Like most Americans, Arab Americans want to know that their concerns will be recognized and that their voices will be heard. AAAEA is just one organization that helps set the standard for Arab Americans who are involved and engaged in their communities. 

Rawan Elbaba is an intern with the Arab American Institute

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