LAU Hosts the First National Microelectronics Olympiad

Inter-university students and engineers test their knowledge for a chance to represent Lebanon internationally and network with industry specialists and peers.

By Sara Makarem

A group photo of the Olympiad’s winners and participants along with the school of engineering faculty and the event’s sponsors.
First-place winner Mohammad El Sheikh, a fresh engineering graduate from the American University of Beirut.
Second-place winner, LAU’s own undergraduate third-year mechatronics student, Charbel Boutros.
Third-place winner Roni El Khoury, a master’s graduate student from the Lebanese International University.

The microelectronics industry—which produces everything from smartphones to self-driving cars—is facing numerous challenges, including insufficient research and the need for new manufacturing methods to meet the high global demand.

Growing the talent pipeline is key to addressing those challenges, which is why, in a new initiative to increase job opportunities and foster industry collaboration, LAU’s School of Engineering hosted the first national microelectronics competition, part of the International Microelectronics Olympiad, at the Beirut campus on May 31, 2024.

The international competition is organized annually in Armenia by LAU’s industry partner Synopsys—a leading company in the electronic design automation of integrated circuits—where winners from more than 25 countries compete on the international stage.

“This is the first time Lebanon will be represented in the competition’s 19th edition,” said Dr. Michel Khoury, dean of the School of Engineering. “We are fortunate to launch this tradition here at LAU,” he added.

The 36 participants, including students from universities across Lebanon, graduates and young professionals under 30, took a one-hour standardized test to assess their knowledge of semiconductor devices and technology, mathematics and algorithms in Electronic Design Automation (EDA), and digital IC Design and Test, among other topics.

The event aims to connect engineers with key industry players and “strengthen the opportunities for graduates in Lebanon in semiconductors, hardware, and technology,” said Dr. Dani Tannir, associate professor, assistant dean and program committee member at the International Microelectronics Olympiad.

The three winners with the highest scores were announced in an award ceremony that followed. First place went to Mohammad El Sheikh, a fresh engineering graduate from the American University of Beirut. LAU’s own Charbel Boutros, an undergraduate third-year mechatronics student, claimed the second prize, while Roni El Khoury, who holds a master’s degree in engineering from the Lebanese International University, came third.

“The exam was rather easy, but the challenging part was the amount of material one has to retain across the years,” said Boutros, commenting on his win.

All winners received monetary prizes made possible by the event’s sponsor, SiliconCedars. Additionally, El-Sheikh won a trip to Armenia for a chance to compete in the Olympiad’s international edition, which will take place in November 2024.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Tannir encouraged all participants to join next year’s edition now that they have become familiar with the exam and know what to expect.