Salman Alotaibi, graduating with a mechanical engineering degree, had his first brush with the Amir of his home country of Kuwait—His Highness Sabah Al-Sabah—when he was about nine years old. Though, it wasn't Salman but his friend who met the monarch and head of state—an event that Salman admits made him a little jealous.
This was around the same time Salman first applied his natural mechanical mindset while working on a car engine in the Kuwait Science Club.
"It took me about one month to diagnose the engine, from the crankshaft to the valves, everything," Alotaibi said.
Fast forward a few years: Alotaibi continued to apply himself, choosing to study engineering nearly 6,500 miles away at Temple's College of Engineering in Philadelphia.
He kept working with his hands, too, eventually partnering with fellow mechanical engineering student Yaqoub Bushehri on a senior design project that would go on to win the Fox School of Business Innovative Idea Competition in 2018.
Their idea, Pure Trip—a lightweight, portable washing machine for travelers—is both the product of design thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit, also helped tick off that item from Salman's bucket list.
He got to meet the Amir of Kuwait.
Earlier in March, Alotaibi flew home to Kuwait and was recognized alongside eight fellow Kuwaiti students as part of the fourth annual Kuwaiti Youth Creativity and Excellence Awards.
Alotaibi was recognized with an award in the science and technology category, accepting the award on behalf of his partnership with Bushehri, who was unable to make the trip. He also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait and other dignitaries at Bayan Palace.
"It was exciting, and it's a because of the skills I developed here," Alotaibi said, adding that he plans to eventually bring Pure Trip to global markets. First, he returned to campus to prepare for commencement and the upcoming Fox School of Business Be Your Own Boss Bowl.
After commencement, Alotaibi plans to serve as a field engineer with Schlumberger in Oklahoma before pursuing graduate studies with an eye on advancing his entrepreneurial approach to engineering. But for all the travel, Philly will always have a special place for him.
"I've been to maybe 15 states the past four years," he said. "When I go anywhere else, I miss Philly."