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Emirati team from UAE University wins at Space Agency Ideathon

Posted 17 November 2016 · Add Comment

The UAE Space Agency has announced that a young team of students from UAE University has won the Ideathon, the culminating event of the Agency's recently launched capacity building programme.

Developed in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the innovative programme aimed to promote and spread space education among young people in the UAE. 

A prelude to UAE Innovation Week, the Agency’s capacity building programme is a part of the Global Space Congress’ Next Gen Space initiative. The programme featured workshops discussing targets, objectives, and learning methods of space education, as well as sessions on the CanSat programme and hybrid rockets. 

Lectures by Dr. Hiroaki Akyiama from Wakayama University, Toshinori Aoshima from Vision, and Pauline Faure from the Kyushu Institute of Technology prepared students for the competitive Ideathon. During the Ideathon, teams of four students from New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE University, Masdar Institute, American University of Sharjah, and Khalifa University brainstormed and presented ideas on how to utilise space technology in order to solve real life problems and benefit society in the UAE. 

The UAE University Supernovas, a team composed of Shamma Alkalbani, Lamia Al Marzooqi, Aaisha Alyahyaai, and Aysha Alshamsi emerged victorious with their idea to employ space technology to locate lost and crashed aircraft. Selected by a panel of Japanese experts, the young female Emirati team from UAE University will have the opportunity to travel to Japan for a week’s training in parabolic flight experimentation. 

Dr Khalifa Al Romaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said: “This latest program represents and realizes the long-term strategic vision of the UAE Space Agency, which seeks to inspire, train and develop future Emirati trailblazers in the field of space. This capacity building program allows students to achieve their full potential and gain knowledge about space, thus laying the groundwork for the future of the entire sector.” 

“Furthermore, we are committed to working with our international partners to develop the human capital necessary to grow and sustain our national space sector. The UAE’s transition to a knowledge-based economy is entirely dependent upon the development of a highly skilled workforce, familiar with the use of advanced technology,” added Al Romaithi. 

Dr. Masahiko Nagai from Yamaguchi University said: “We can get very unique ideas from students, and their ideas are directly related to the issues faced by their own country. Here in the UAE many of the ideas that were presented centered around energy, Mars, the desert, and tourism. When developing their ideas we encourage students to look at the whole package from potential sources of funding down to the end user. Thinking holistically like this promotes innovative thought and leads to the development of unique solutions to everyday problems.” 

Shamma Alkalbani from UAE University’s Supernovas said: “An unbelievable experience. It was really exciting for us to participate in this completion and be able to work on solutions for environmental issues. It was very interesting and amazing to be a part of this experience. My major is mechanical engineering and I was thinking that we could do this for our graduation project. It was really helpful for us to be a part of this experience.” 

The UAE Space Agency will host the Global Space Congress at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, from January 31 to February 1, 2017. The Congress will highlight international educational program that focus on space sciences and technology as a part of the Agency’s aim to enhance its efforts in developing specialised skillsets and personnel to become future leaders of the national space sector.

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