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Ebrahim Mattar

Professor Ebrahim A. Mattar has performed a broad range of volunteering roles for us successfully during the last 20 years. Here we find out what he’s been doing and why he has devoted so much time and energy to supporting our mission.

Ebrahim has a BSc in Electrical Engineering (1986), an MSc in Electronics (1989) and a doctoral degree in Cybernetics (1995).

He has worked at the University of Bahrain’s College of Engineering since 1996 and is now Professor of Robotics and Cybernetics as well as Head of Postgraduate Studies.

Influencing young minds

Ebrahim has been influencing young minds since 2001, when he took on his first volunteer role as Student Counsellor for the Bahrain Local Network of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

He said: “I was responsible for engaging with students at a very early stage and reinforcing the vital importance of professionalism in an engineer role.

“This helped shape my own thinking too and I learned a great deal about standards and ethics. Directing and advising others are primary drivers for me.

It feels good to help people progress along their career pathway. That’s one of the things I like most about volunteering in the engineering community.”

Ebrahim found dealing with young professionals and new engineering students fascinating: “I learned about how they saw their future as an engineer – the jobs they would like to do and their career ambitions.”

But it also required a lot of effort: “Engaging with the students was very time-consuming, especially as communications channels back then were not as advanced as they are now. But I enjoyed the commitment.”

Ebrahim was forever promoting the benefits of joining us and volunteering for us during the five years he spent counselling students.

“The IET has the experience and the capacity to develop professionals according to international standards,” he said. “And I believe you can gain a lot of personal and professional skills through volunteering.”

Board-level responsibilities

Ebrahim served two three-year terms as a member of the IET EMEA Regional Board, starting in 2009 and in 2016. “I wanted to broaden my volunteer activities beyond the IET Bahrain Local Network, which I also chaired during these periods,” he said.

“I was keen to learn new skills, get more involved and find out more about the engineering technology and potential within the region.

“It was a busy role that included setting business plans for local networks, checking how they related to contemporary engineering and technology issues, and measuring outcomes. That was a very interesting and challenging part of my volunteer journey.

“I learned about the importance of taking local engineering regulations and regional cultures into account when planning events.

I also gained a good understanding of how specific local universities within the EMEA region were operating – this was useful knowledge, because it defined how young professional members could get involved with IET activities and events.

“I wanted to set in motion a number of academia-related events that would serve academia and Young Professionals alike. We introduced the IET Smart Cities Symposium and supported the annual IET GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] Robotics Challenges.

In my role on the Local Network, I also organised many local forums on topics ranging from AI [artificial intelligence] to image processing and renewable energy.

“Managing so many events definitely helped me to progress in my academic career as well as in engineering. But for me, the best part about being on the Board was the opportunity to engage with current engineering and technology issues.”

Ebrahim was a member of the IET Control and Automation Technical Network (TN) Committee from 2011 to 2014. He was responsible for setting the guidelines for the network, as well as event management.

“The TNs are the inner engine of the IET. That period was very special to me,” he said, “because I was networking with control and automation specialists from around the world and building links between Local Networks and the TNs. I learned a lot.”

Benefits of volunteering

Ebrahim believes firmly that education alone will not create a knowledgeable engineer or build a professional career. “You can gain a lot of personal and professional skills through volunteering duties,” he said.

“At the point when I completed my PhD, I had a relatively low academic profile and little experience. However, since then my various IET volunteer roles and responsibilities have enabled me to broaden my knowledge, keep up to date with the latest engineering advancements and acquire new skills. That’s why I always recommend that more engineers should get involved.

“Volunteering has been great in terms of expanding my professional network too, by engaging with the TNs, IET staff, fellow IET members and the engineering community in Bahrain and the region.

I have gained contacts which have come in very handy when nominating keynote speakers for technical events. I have learned a great deal from these experts and have gone on to apply that knowledge in consultations.

“Being an IET volunteer has definitely helped enrich, shape and advance my career. Volunteering has been an excellent choice for me. It has opened new doors in my professional life.”

Ebrahim is grateful to the IET staff team for providing continuous support and multiple opportunities to link up with other engineering professionals in Bahrain and internationally.

“It’s good to be able to get involved, learn from others and keep myself updated in my professional academic career,” he said.

Next steps

Ebrahim plans to continue volunteering with the IET Bahrain Local Network, to help spread the word about the importance of professionalism in engineering, and with the IET at large.

“Organising events, introducing the IET to new members and encouraging young members to engage with the IET – these will be the new focus for my volunteer activity, at local and regional levels,” he said.

“I have a hugely successful career in academia but I still set myself goals to achieve. In terms of my professional development, my next target is to become an IET Fellow.”