UAE: Abu Dhabi Awards recipient inspires youth to pursue STEM careers

Through tutoring and workshops, Fatima Al Kaabi encourages her generation to strive for excellence



by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Thu 5 May 2022, 3:47 PM

Last updated: Thu 5 May 2022, 11:38 PM

Fatima Al Kaabi, a recipient of the Abu Dhabi Awards, says being recognised for her works in innovation has motivated her to work harder to continue pushing and inspire young people in UAE and the region, especially girls.

Through volunteer tutoring and workshops, Al Kaabi aims to encourage them to pursue science, engineering and technology programmes. The 20-year-old Emirati was honoured as the youngest inventor in 2015 by the UAE Pioneers Award, and later in 2017, received the Abu Dhabi Awards.

Established in 2005, the Abu Dhabi Awards honours individuals who have selflessly contributed to supporting and benefiting the UAE community.

The Abu Dhabi Awards is considered the Capital's highest civilian honour and the nomination period for the 2022 campaign is running for a period of eight weeks between April 21 to June 16, 2022. Members of the community are asked to nominate unsung heroes who have selflessly touched the lives of other people in the UAE.

Al Kaabi, who is currently pursuing a computer engineering course at Virginia Tech in the US told Khaleej Times she seeks to bring her knowledge back home and work on improving technology in the UAE.

She has had a passion for creativity and innovation since she was seven years old. Her love of science was immediately recognised by her parents, who nurtured her fondness for experimenting and chasing her dreams.

Recognition by Abu Dhabi Awards

Recalling the moment when she was honoured for her innovations at a young age, Al Kaabi said: “I was humbled by the recognition from the Abu Dhabi Awards, especially from an inspiring leader, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Getting the award was a life-changing experience.

“I am happy that the work I was doing was contributing positively to my community that has supported me over the years and receiving that recognition just pushed me to work harder to continue pushing young people in Abu Dhabi and the UAE to follow their passions in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).”

The Emirati says she has always been inspired when it comes to STEM. “I incredibly enjoy helping people and problem solving. STEM gave me the chance to explore two areas that I really enjoy, which are engineering and science,” said Al Kaabi.

“At a young age, I have always been curious about inventions around me and different technologies. After a while, I got very curious and started learning how to create my own inventions and Innovations using simple components around me.”

Educating young people on STEM

After being honoured by the Abu Dhabi Awards in 2017, the Emirati has worked on multiple projects involving educating young people on STEM, and especially encouraging young women in the Middle East and the world, to pursue the field and navigate the challenges that come with that.

“I've had the honour to work with big organisations globally on empowering women such as the UN Girls Education Initiative, the Malala Fund and big companies like Lego to inspire young girls to be creative and innovative,” said Al Kaabi.

The Emirati has been making positive contributions to the community of Abu Dhabi by creating social platforms around innovation and creativity. Through volunteer tutoring and workshops, she has shared her passion for and knowledge of the sciences to encourage her generation to strive for excellence.

In 2016, Al Kaabi obtained an internationally accredited certification for peer-to-peer training and counselling. She has also participated in more than 22 student activities and events covering all educational levels.

The last invention she worked on was the Teleporter in 2017, which was a robot that attends school for sick children. “It navigates through campus and helps children who have to leave school for health issues be able to attend classes through this robot and interact with their friends,” she explained.

“After Covid-19, this invention became important in giving children the cancer to attend school during these difficult times.”

The Emirati took a small break from inventing since she graduated from high school in 2019 and focused more on education and empowerment efforts while being in college.

Al Kaabi says she opted for a computer engineering major at the college because it combines both her technical interests while also building a foundation in software programming that are both needed when creating new technologies and building new inventions.

“Many of the skills that I gained over the years while working on my inventions have made my time in college easier and inspired many of the projects that I've created for my classes. My inventions have helped me with my education in college and I definitely see my time in college inspiring me to contribute more to the world of engineering and STEM in general."

Advice to young inventors

Al Kaabi’s advice for young inventors is to continue improving. “When I started in STEM, I was seeking perfection with all my inventions and no matter what I did, it never felt complete. That is the charm of working with technology and working in STEM in general. There is always room to improve, learn and to grow,” she said.

“Continue to educate yourself and find an area you are interested in and start brainstorming ideas to support the field that you like. Setting a focus for yourself and finding a purpose to work towards will help you.”

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