Middle Tennessee State University Office of International Affairs hosted a contingency of law enforcement professionals from Dubai Police Force this summer during a three-week professional exchange program.
The inaugural Business Analytics and Forensic Science Global Study program was sponsored by the Dubai Police in partnership with multiple departments and offices across the university.
“It was a huge undertaking, but these scholarly exchanges strengthen the cooperation between the Dubai Police and MTSU to create more partnerships with the United Arab Emirates in general,” said Rehab Ghazal, associate vice provost in the Office of International Affairs, who facilitated the summer program.
MTSU welcomed 14 graduate students from Dubai who participated, including a prince and two royal family members. There were seven Ph.D. candidates in fields of law, legislation, innovative entrepreneurship, forensics and computer science, as well as a physician and a dentist.
A major portion of the coursework included classroom instruction within multiple educational disciplines.
Associate professor Sam Zaza and assistant professor Stephanie Totty, both from the Department of Information Systems and Analytics, taught them business analytics. In addition to classroom instruction, the professors welcomed industry professionals from Keller Schroder in Nashville, who talked about how to use the data visualization to keep track of crime.
“In addition, we took the group to Nashville for a visit to (IT and software consulting firm) CGI, which hires many of our students from the Information Systems major,” Zaza said. “CGI talked about the importance of analytics and data visualization in their work as IT and business consultants.”
Experiential learning complemented the curriculum. Under the instruction of biology professor Frank Bailey, head of the Forensic Science program, students performed toxicology experiments on faux urine samples to determine the presence of illegal substances.
Biology professor Yangseung Jeong introduced students to the MTSU Outdoor Forensic Facility, or MOFF, where he monitors decomposition rates of various animals that were donated to the ongoing off-site experiential learning lab.
There was also a tour of the Nashville headquarters of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, led by TBI Special Agent and MTSU Alumna Andrea King, and Bailey. Additionally, Elizabeth Q. Wright, associate professor of Criminal Justice Administration, and Tom Holland, director of the Forensic Institute for Research and Education, or FIRE, each led workshops to introduce the participants to different aspects of policing and forensic archaeology in the United States.
Chaminda Prelis, associate professor and chair of the Department of Aerospace, led students on an excursion to the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport to tour the professional pilot facilities. Students also observed an Unmanned Aircraft Systems demonstration.
“It was a great example of a collaborative project because, if we start counting how many offices were involved — we had almost 50 individuals from MTSU and MTSU partners who were part of the programming,” Ghazal said.
The summer program wasn’t all work and no play. Students traveled to sites across Tennessee to experience some of the culture, from bowling and laser tag to a trip to Lookout Mountain to “See Rock City” in Chattanooga.
“We did far beyond teaching,” Zaza said.
This year marks the first in a three-year exchange with Dubai Police.
“I am hoping that in the future, we continue to provide programs like these,” Ghazal said. “But I hope we can start building more academic programs that would tailor to international professionals where we can do part program in their home countries and part program at MTSU.”
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)