A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH FOR BUILDING SAUDI WOMEN CAPABILITIES IN STEM R&D: THE KING ABDULAZIZ CITY FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EXPERIENCE
King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has been supporting the role of women in Saudi research and development for a long time. However, the local context is quite unique because of the gender-segregated environment. Recently, the Women-Role Enhancement Program (Women-REP) was put into place to overcome issues faced by women due to gender-segregation. It is the first of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia dedicated to supporting the role of women in research and development. One of Women-REP’s goals is to build strong university-industry alliances in the STEM domain through a formal cooperative training program. The program is defined as the process of relating students' academic achievements with practical and authentic reality. This is achieved during a predefined period of time where students train at one of KACST’s research centers under direct supervision of experienced researchers. This paper sheds light on the program with special emphasis on its methodology, life cycle, and formal assessment methods. In addition, it describes the benefits, added value, advantages, and opportunities for KACST, universities and students. It then concludes with findings and recommendations to fine-tune the experience which can be adopted by national and regional institutions with similar contexts.