Posted on February 06, 2018

About 30 school students from across Qatar designed and coded mobile applications as part of a weeklong academic enrichment workshop on cybersecurity organized by Texas A&M University at Qatar.

During App Camp: Cybersecurity Challenge, students worked in teams to design and develop an iOS app. They learned how to code, prototype, test and refine their ideas along the way. Apps developed by the students included a phone-theft app, an app that helps students make choices that will decide their futures, an app that lets users borrow specific items from others in the community, and an app for delivering coffee and recycling the materials used. Najah Alnounou was part of the team developing a phone-security app called Stranger Danger. When installed on an iPhone, the app can detect if the person holding the phone is the owner. If the wrong password is entered, the app takes a photo of the holder’s face and sounds an alarm to notify others in the area of the theft. 

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Alanounou said she enjoyed the programming aspect of the camp. “It’s all about logic. Once you understand, you’re ready to create anything. That’s what coding is!” Participant Mohab Amgad said, “In this workshop I have learned to program in a new language, with a goal to create a new app that involves cyber security with the purpose to help others.” Dr. Mohamed Gharib, facilitator for App Camp, said the program was designed to help students understand fundamentals of programming while highlighting the critical role of cybersecurity in Qatar’s sustained development. “Through this experience, App Camp participants are learning that anyone can become a programmer,” he said. “These students have applied their creativity and determination toward impressive app projects that they should be proud of.”

Maha Al Sulaiti said she applied for the program to gain experience in programming, and Maha Al-Suffar agreed, saying, “In this program I have learned a lot about computer programming and because of the App Camp program, my team and I are going to create the first coffee app that delivers and recycles in Qatar.” Ghalya Abdulrahman and Noor Abdulrazzaq, part of the coffee-app team, said, “Being the first young Qatari girls programming our personal project on coffee transport application — in addition to collaborating with the recycling company — has never made us feel this proud of ourselves, as we are not only contributing to the community and environment but also to our loyal State of Qatar.” 

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App Camp was presented by Texas A&M at Qatar and sponsored by Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd. (Oxy Qatar). Occidental has joined the branch campus’s strategic educational outreach efforts that aim to motivate young Qataris to choose educational pathways for careers in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The initiative supports both teachers and students through a broad portfolio of programs and workshops. Dr. César O. Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said outreach programs such as App Camp help young students understand the importance of engineering in Qatar and worldwide.

“Engineers and inventors are needed in Qatar to meet the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030,” Malavé said, “and programs such as App Camp that encourage students to choose paths to careers in engineering are critical to the success of Qatar National Vision 2030. These students have seen how engineering can help solve problems people face every day, and I hope they have learned a lot and enjoyed their time with us. Each of our App Camp programmers and inventors has the potential to be an engineering leader in Qatar.”