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All-girl space exploration team ready to blast off

(Wam) / 15 December 2012

Space Ed-Ventures, a locally based educational platform and the regionís only space exploration programme, opened applications for an all-girl cohort of aspiring engineers, researchers and astronauts between the ages of 12 and 18 in November.

After a rigorous screening process, and weeding through an extensive list of applicants, 24 students have made the cut and are on their way to this once-in-a-lifetime experience at Space Center Houston.

“We have had a lot of interest from the students and the parents for this educational trip. I am proud to say that the selected students are all perfect student ambassadors for the UAE, and will positively represent our country and all its endeavors in educating and supporting women.” said Hussain Al Ansari, CEO of Space Ed-Ventures.

Space Ed-Ventures is the GCC’s pioneering youth programme that can be tailor-made to run for up to 4 weeks, allowing students with an inclination towards science and engineering to hone their interest with focused theoretical and practical space training onsite at Space Center Houston.

Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, Director General of the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT) said: “The mission consists of 24 female local students all from the Applied Technology high school students who were selected after passing thorough qualifying process, to identify their special scientific level and verifying their fluency in English, in order to ensure taking full advantage of the mission. Pointing to the fact that the institute is keen to have its students participate in this program, in which UAE is a leader among other GCC countries, referring to the fact that the program aims to develop talents and encourage young men and women from the country between the ages of 18 and 22 to study Aerospace science and specialize it in the future.”

“It should be mentioned that the female student envoys among the mission will undergo many experiences in the aerospace field, conducted by specialized experts, increasing the students’ chances of studying aerospace and aviation when joining universities, which would benefit the country that needs more specialized national resources in this vital field related to aviation and aerospace, which in line with the limitless UAE ambitions. “ Added Dr. Al Shamsi.

Accompanied by their parents and chaperones, the 24 girls selected from the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT) embarked on a 7-day intensive aerospace engineering and youth space training programme at Houston Space School which is the official visitors’ center of NASA Johnson Space Centre, in line with their holistic curriculum at IAT.

Ahmed Al Mulla, Senior Manager, Student Services Department said “The institute deputed 60 students among tow successful missions to Space Center Houston in collaboration with Space Ed-Ventures where students benefited greatly from all of the activities and all planned goals were successfully achieved, which spurred the institute to repeat the mission, and for the first time, for female students allowing their parents to accompany them during the mission that would also include supervisors and experts working within a comprehensive system to achieve the hoped goals of the mission, pointing out that the mission will focus on aerospace engineering and aerospace training that complies with curriculums in place at the Applied Technology High Schools, which should entrench all kinds of theoretical information learned in the minds of the students.”

“We are collaborating with Space Ed-Ventures to execute this aerospace program out of high performance professional approach, by which the Higher Management of the Institute chooses specialized institutions and companies with a solid record of achievements in performing specific roles which serves the educational processes and strategic plans of the institute, ensuring achieving maximum benefit from all the activities and programs executed by the institute.” Added Al Mulla.

Chosen based on their academic merit and fluency in English, the top 24 applicants who made the cut will have the opportunity to work on projects that simulate real-life scenarios, troubleshooting and creating solutions in groups.

Some of their assignments will include designing a functioning rocket that will be tested and launched on site. They will also engineer robotic Mars rovers similar to the real one on the red planet, to collect samples from the terrain for analysis. The students will also undergo the same training procedures as actual astronauts, including the opportunity to meet returning space explorers with real-world experience either in the control room or on the shuttle. At the end of the week-long intensive, they will be expected to present their findings and solutions that will be peer-evaluated and overseen by the Space Centre Houston administration for presentation style and content knowledge.

Enthused by the programme as a positive cultural and informational exchange, Jeffrey Ladenson, U.S. Embassy Spokesperson, said, “It is inspirational to see the younger generation in the UAE demonstrate such an interest in the sciences. By exposing young, inquisitive minds to the high impact, glamorous side of science through space travel and astronomy, Space Ed-Ventures is sowing the seeds of scientific inquiry at an early age.”

Capping the trip, Space Ed-ventures will take the cadets on a historical and cultural tour of Houston, including museums, boardwalks and iconic parks.


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