Dr Ebrahim Mattar has followed an academic career and is currently working hard towards his professorship and IET Fellow status. He enjoys the world of research, having published many papers on robotics, lectures at the University of Bahrain and is an active volunteer.
Ebrahim has always had a passion for education, and since leaving secondary school has continued to be involved in this sector - either as a student or an academic.
His focus on engineering came from his interest in science in addition to his family background, as he explains here.
“It’s to do with the cultural aspects of young Bahraini during the late 70’s. I had finished my secondary school with a major in scientific studies. I liked this specialty due to my family’s continuous encouragements and also the good status engineers were honoured with during that time,” he says. “In addition my father was a Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) employee, which also played a role, as I would occasionally visit his office.”
Ebrahim went on to complete a BSc in electrical engineering from the University of Bahrain in 1986 and his family encouraged him to look at postgraduate study opportunities.
“I had a great push from my family in particular. I understood that following an academic career is always challenging, it has social status and it’s a community duty,” he explains. “I was pushed by my family to pursue such a career, because the University of Bahrain had just been inaugurated and a number of graduates had committed themselves towards academic paths, so I decided to follow that same path.”
Ebrahim took the big step to study internationally and went on to complete an MSc in electronics in 1988 at the University of Southampton and a PhD in cybernetics at the University of Reading in 1994. Later in 2001 he was lucky enough to be selected with 30 others for the Gulf Executive Program conducted in the USA, were he received an MBA from Darden School.
His area of expertise is cybernetics, including multi-finger robotics manipulation, computational intelligence, robotics control and modelling, fuzzy clustering and evolutional computation. Having lectured on these topics for a number of years at the University of Bahrain, he currently works there as an Associate Professor of Cybernetics, Computational Intelligence and Robotics.
During his academic career Ebrahim has worked across the ‘three tracks’ he believes makes up all academic roles: university service, research and community involvement.
“University service involves teaching, committee involvement and administration jobs. In fact I have, and still continue to lecture and teach in addition to the administration jobs that I am assigned. I have done my sole university lecturing at the University of Bahrain, however I have done some academic lecturing in other institutions upon request.”
In terms of research, his focus has been on robotic hand manipulation and he has published many papers in the field.
“I consider research as a vital part of my career. I really enjoy it and since I graduated from Reading University back in 1994 I have been trying my best to follow the updates in my field. I have done most of my research and publications on neural robotics hand control. Now this field is moving very fast into the area of bionic hands,” he notes. “Working in academia is a challenging job focused on presenting your thoughts and ideas to colleagues and peers. You have to find your way through the best and worst times,” he adds.
Community involvement is a big part of Ebrahim’s career and he also gives up his time to work as an active IET volunteer in the region. He feels that you’re not a ‘complete engineer’ just by gaining a college education.
“Engineering is a practice and profession. Not every single part of it comes through college education, so I found that directing and advising others are primary drivers,” he explains. “It is always a good experience to help others find their pathways. This is a reason why I like to help others through volunteering in the engineering community.”
He also believes you can gain a lot of personal and professional skills through your volunteering work, which is why he recommends more engineers should get involved.
“IET volunteering has given me vast experience in dealing with academic issues and I have also gained tools and skills in dealing with professional issues. In addition I’ve gained contacts, established networks and got good experience in driving others down their career pathways.
Although Ebrahim has had a hugely successful career within academia he continues to set himself new goals to achieve.
Currently he is not professionally registered and so he is working to change that now, and is aiming to gain IET fellowship status. He is also working toward receiving the full academic rank of professorship.
No doubt he will achieve these goals, but looking forward he also plans to continue to extend his research and share new findings with the community.