The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Sami Al-AbdRabbuh Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

September 13, 2016


“Engineering a Better World”  September 13, 2016  Location: Valley Library, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Al-AbdRabbuh discusses his family background and early years in Arizona, his family's relocation to Saudi Arabia, and the roles that both religion and science played during his youth. From there, he reflects on his undergraduate studies at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, noting the differences in the Saudi educational system as compared to the United States, and also speaking of his academic progression and social life while an undergraduate. Al-AbdRabbuh then recalls his early working career and shares his memories of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The session then turns its attentions to Al-AbdRabbuh's move to Oregon and his adjustment to the Pacific Northwest. In recounting the specifics of his time at OSU, Al-AbdRabbuh emphasizes his master's studies in Industrial Engineering, details his involvement with OSU's solar car team, and describes the process by which he decided to pursue a doctorate at Oregon State. Next, he responds to a series of questions about culture, sharing his thoughts on the environment faced by the Muslim and Arabic-speaking communities in Corvallis, and commenting on the roles played on campus and within the community by the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center, the Etihad Cultural Center, and the INTO program.

The final major subject of the interview is Al-AbdRabbuh's involvement in public service and political affairs. In tracing this component of his life, Al-AbdRabbuh discusses his activities as a member of ASOSU's legislative branch, and also details his "Humans of Corvallis" project, which ultimately expanded into a cross-country train trip during which he interviewed random acquaintances about their world views. The session concludes with background on Al-AbdRabbuh's decision to run for state representative; his thoughts on future ambitions; and his sense of OSU as it looks toward its sesquicentennial.