Clinton Presidential Foundation awards student with scholarship to study abroad at American University in Dubai

Junior civil engineering student Zach Elliott of Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been awarded one of ten William Jefferson Clinton Scholarships and is spending his summer studying at the American University in Dubai while working with one of the largest civil engineering firms in the Middle East.

In partnership with American University in Dubai, the Clinton Presidential Foundation provides American students based in the United States the opportunity to expand their educational and cultural horizons by studying in the Arab world.

Zach Elliott

“I first applied for the scholarship after my freshman year,”said Zach Elliott. “I had little civil engineering experience at the time and desired an opportunity to immerse myself in the discipline while gaining a better understanding and appreciation of this complex part of the world. Many of my professors frequently highlighted Dubai for its modern engineering marvels and cutting-edge design practices, so I was instantly drawn to this program.”

Not being accepted into the program the first time only fueled Elliot’s determination to prove he was qualified for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“While I know it’s a big leap to spend two months in the Middle East with no prior international experience, I had been itching to encounter another culture and felt study abroad was a vital addition to my undergraduate plan,” Elliott said.

This past year he set out to improve his credentials and GPA and reapplied in March. After two 5:30 a.m. interviews and a two month wait, he was awarded the scholarship.

During his time abroad, he’ll fulfill several degree requirements while also working with Khansaheb Engineering, internationally known for its landmark construction projects that have contributed to the development of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

He’s currently enrolled in three accelerated, six-week classes: Environmental engineering, fluid mechanics, and politics of the Middle East. Both engineering courses will feature labs at various high-profile developments in the area, including water and sediment sampling at the Dubai Marina and the fountains surrounding the illustrious Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world).

“The co-op internship will provide a great environment for me to channel the skills I have accrued at Vanderbilt into real-world engineering solutions,” Elliott said.

As part of his co-op internship with Khansaheb, Elliott has been assigned to work with the Dubai Regional Transit Authority on designs for its ongoing expansion of the Red and Purple Metro lines.

“My team will design the steel components to be implemented as a prototype for constructing new Metro stations, an incredible opportunity to leave my mark on this city through engineering. This hands-on transportation design work will be very valuable to me as I continue to pursue a career in transportation engineering.”