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


Sami Ahmad Al-AbdRabbuh was born in 1987 in Tucson, Arizona, where his father was studying for a degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona. Around the age of six, Al-AbdRabbuh and his family moved to Saudi Arabia, his father's home country, and it was in Saudi Arabia that Al-AbdRabbuh completed his primary, secondary and undergraduate educations. Interested in science from an early age, Al-AbdRabbuh attended the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), completing a bachelor's degree in Control and Instrumentation Systems Engineering in 2010. While an undergraduate, Al-AbdRabbuh developed an automated system for tracking the score in table tennis games that was based on the detection of audio signatures made by ping pong balls as they struck the table.

Following the completion of his studies at KFUPM, Al-AbdRabbuh and a colleague launched their own start-up business, Crispy Science, which creates science-based learning programs for young people. At around this same time, Al-AbdRabbuh accepted a position at Bently Nevada, a subsidiary of General Electric with headquarters in Bahrain, where he worked as a design engineer.

In 2012, Al-AbdRabbuh received funding from the Saudi government to pursue a graduate degree in the United States. Interested in engineering management, Al-AbdRabbuh ultimately enrolled as a master's student in Oregon State University's Industrial Design program and researched comprehensive emergency management. During this time, Al-AbdRabbuh also became involved in student government, serving stints as both a Senator and Representative within the ASOSU legislative branch, as well as a term on the Memorial Union Advisory Board. Al-AbdRabbuh was likewise a driver for OSU's solar car team, participating in two races in the United States and a third in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2015, Al-AbdRabbuh completed his OSU master's degree and subsequently enrolled in the university's doctorate program in Industrial Engineering. His interests in public service continued to broaden as well, including work in the OSU Center for Leadership Development as well as membership on the Corvallis School District Budget Committee. During the 2016 election cycle, Al-AbdRabbuh ran for the state house as the Progressive Party's candidate representing District 16. The election was claimed by Democratic incumbent, Dan Rayfield. Al-AbdRabbuh was subsequently elected to the Corvallis School Board, assuming the position of vice-chair in June 2017.