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Statler College alumnus, Adam Al-Mulla, serves as delegate in UNESCO

Adam Al-Mulla

Ambassador Adam Al-Mulla, permanent UNESCO delegate of the state of Kuwait. Photo courtesy of Oregon State University.

A strong educational background in engineering from West Virginia University and Oregon State University has served as the foundation for Adam Al-Mulla’s work as Kuwait’s permanent delegate in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since his appointment in February 2019. During his four-year term, Al-Mulla will be stationed in Paris, according to an article published at Oregon State University.


Story by Tara Heffernan, Multi-Media Specialist
Photo from Oregon State University

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—

After receiving his bachelor's of science in chemical engineering from OSU, Al-Mulla pursued his master's of science degree in chemical engineering at WVU. After graduating in 1998, he stayed at WVU to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, which he completed in 2002.

After graduating, Al-Mulla remained interested in issues related to plastics and recycling and would frequently return to Morgantown to participate in research at WVU Labs.

During one such visit in the summer and fall of 2007, Al-Mulla was involved in a project funded by GE Plastics (later SABIC Innovative Plastics) that focused on developing an eco-friendly Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS). This plastic was made by General Electric in Parkersburg, WV, and was used to make computer and printer housings and other goods.

“Adam had an extremely positive outlook to life, and he always had a smile on his face,” said Rakesh Gupta, Berry Professor in chemical engineering and Al-Mulla’s WVU thesis advisor. “He showed keen interest in learning new things, and he decided to get involved in solving societal problems even if the research was not closely related to oil refining or petrochemicals.”

Over the course of his education, Al-Mulla developed an appreciation for a multicultural mindset and for teaching, as stated in a profile featuring him at OSU.

In his role as delegate, Al-Mulla has many responsibilities. According to a story published by OSU, Al-Mulla ensures UNESCO-sponsored projects and conventions are implemented as well as providing updates on cultural and educational happenings in Kuwait. He also evaluates and repairs World Heritage Sites to preserve the living heritage of various countries and works with the International Bureau of Education-UNESCO in Geneva to create educational equality initiatives and sports programs with the intention to promote peace among nations.

Another priority area for Al-Mulla is refugee access to education, as stated in Oregon State Engineering Alumni Magazine.

“I’ve started working on projects that align with specific vision in Kuwait. One such priority is improving access to education, science and cultural involvement for people with disabilities,” Al-Mulla said. “Every two years in Kuwait, we give awards to individuals involved in initiatives that empower people with disabilities. This is a shared priority with UNESCO.”

Many people wonder about the connection between Al-Mulla’s education in engineering and his current diplomatic role.

“Having an engineering background is perfect,” Al-Mulla said. “In my role, I have to develop a problem statement, assemble a team, and find a solution to that problem, just as engineers do. The things I learned as an undergraduate, especially how to communicate my ideas and develop the best solution for the lowest cost, apply to my job every day.”

Prior to this appointment, and because of the impact his teachers and professors had on him, Al-Mulla spent many years of his career in academia. He first served as a professor at Kuwait University, and then as assistant secretary general of facilities and affairs. This focus has helped him in his current role.

“For my own personal growth, teaching helped me get used to being in front of crowds and speaking publicly, and research made me more technically proficient,” said Al-Mulla.

“Without doubt, Adam has been my most productive student. The research that he was involved with led to one patent, eleven journal papers, five conference publications, one book chapter and numerous presentations,” said Gupta. “I have seen his professional growth over the years, and I am not surprised by his current efforts on behalf of his country and UNESCO.

After Al-Mulla’s term as a delegate in UNESCO is complete, he plans to return to Kuwait University to teach and continue his research.


-WVU-

th/09/01/2022

Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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