Design industry representatives took advantage of the opportunity to meet with more than 110 talented new designers from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) on Friday night, as they prepare to make their debut into the professional arena this summer.
From sustainable architecture, to animation, to storybook design and more, the diverse and innovative creative work of CAAD graduating students was unveiled in the Six Degrees Exit Show at Dubai Design District (D3), which will run until Friday, June 3 . Named after the college’s undergraduate and graduate program offering, Six Degrees features creative work in the disciplines of architecture, interior design, design management, multimedia design, visual communication and urban planning.
Dr. Varkki Pallathucheril, Dean of CAAD, said the exhibition equally celebrates the achievements of the graduates and the transformational instruction of CAAD faculty.
“While we have recently received accolades for our position as the leading architecture and design institute in the UAE, the tangible evidence of our impact is the success of our alumni, students and faculty,” he said.
“Every year, the Six Degrees Exit Show provides us with the opportunity to reflect on how CAAD has played a key role in shaping the UAE into the thriving center for architecture, art and design we see today. By nurturing home-grown design talent who can compete on the global stage, CAAD has significantly impacted the UAE’s creative industry. I confidently anticipate what this year’s graduating class will achieve as they forge their own paths as CAAD alumni,” he said.
Among this year’s graduates is architecture student Sarah al Dulaimi, whose project “The Eco Machine” explores the UAE’s sabkha—or salt flats. Dulaimi has experimented with the use of this salt as a locally sourced construction material to create elevated landscapes and gardens to bring wildlife and vegetation into the landscape.
The Iraqi-British student said there was a moment when she almost gave up her dream of becoming an architect but notes a series of key conversations with CAAD faculty members significantly impacting her decision to keep going.
“The nature of architecture and design education at AUS is very competitive and all-encompassing, and in my third year of studies I considered dropping out. After talking to my professors, I was convinced to be patient with the process in seeing my effort pay off,” said Dulaimi.
Going on to receive the prestigious Sheikh Khalifa Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement, covering 100 percent of her tuition, lab fees and student accommodation in her final year of studies, Dulaimi is graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture, for which she can now pursue professional licensing from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) of the United States. Following her graduation, she plans to pursue graduate studies in architecture abroad.
Jordanian student May Ayman Awwad will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Visual Communication. Driven by her passion and interest in art and design that started early during childhood, Awwad has embraced the opportunity to study a broad range of subjects such as intercultural communication and the history of science and technology through AUS’s liberal arts program offering.
“CAAD has offered me the opportunity to enroll in a very diverse range of courses in fields which include design, animation, art, illustration and many more. This pushed me to explore various backgrounds in other art fields that are not necessarily related to the studying material,” she said.
Awwad’s liberal arts influence is evident in the work showcased in Six Degrees, including a stop-motion clay animation inspired by Greta Thunburg’s iconic UN speech in 2019, and a children’s storybook that encourages younger generations to explore variant historical visual styles through ancient royal costumes across Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire.
At the exhibition opening, the annual student-nominated CAAD Best Faculty Award was given to Camilo Cerro for excellence in architecture education, Dr. Zinka Bejtic for outstanding instruction in art and design, and to Brian Dougan for his meaningful impact in the Foundation Year.
A total of 24 awards were distributed to students in recognition of their academic achievement, dedication and service throughout their studies.. This year’s recipients of the Dean’s Trophy, the highest award for academic excellence in their respective majors, were Sara Ayman Alchaar (architecture), Lama Adel Adnan Al Shadid and Noora Mohamed Alhafidhi (interior design), Allah Murad Abdunabi (multimedia design), Mai Ayman Awwad (visual communication), Katreena Farhan Halasa (design management) and Yara Ibrahim Salma (urban planning).
The annual MAD award for exhibiting motivation, attitude and dedication was awarded to Sahil Ratta (architecture), Tala Hassan (interior design), Allah Abdunab (multimedia design), Marwa Moussaad Elemam (visual communication), Noah Franco (design management) and Abubakar Ibragimov (urban planning).
The Dean’s Service Award for exemplary organizational leadership, service to the university, enlargement of the college purpose, citizenship and contributions to the community was awarded to Nadin Abdelfatah, Sedra Al Sayed and Racine Burney.
To view the 2022 Six Degrees Exit Show catalog online, visit