Posted on July 06, 2015

Twenty-three exceptional Qatari students have been named National Vision Scholars in the inaugural Summer Engineering Academy (SEA), an elite, 10-day academic enrichment program at Texas A&M University at Qatar.

SEA, which runs from 28 June through 9 July, is designed for academically outstanding Qatari students who will enter grade 12 in September, said Dr. Hamid Parsaei, Director of Academic Outreach at Texas A&M at Qatar. The program engages students in research projects that are related to Qatar’s research challenges in energy, water and cybersecurity. “The National Vision Scholars are working closely with some of our most prominent faculty researchers to help devise solutions to Qatar’s research challenges,” Parsaei said. “This exciting experience introduces the students to advanced topics in engineering and science while teaching important problem-solving skills.”

Parsaei said the goal was to entice young Qataris to choose educational pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines. For that initiative, Texas A&M at Qatar partnered with Maersk Oil Qatar (MOQ) to host SEA and a 10-day Future Engineers Program, which runs parallel to SEA and engages more than 40 Qatari students rising into grades 10 and 11. Sheikh Faisal Al-Thani, Deputy Managing Director of MOQ, said investment in human capital was essential for Qatar’s progress toward a knowledge-based economy.

“At MOQ we are committed to fulfilling the potential of the country’s young people — the very people who will help shape Qatar’s future,” Sheikh Faisal said. “By offering up our expertise, capabilities, resources and passion, we aim to increase curiosity, enthusiasm and engagement in STEM subjects for all students. We’re proud to support their development and look forward to helping realise the impact that these bright young minds can have on Qatar’s progress.” As the largest private-sector supporter of STEM skills in Qatar, MOQ has played a vital role in driving the development of a number of successful educational programs and initiatives in the past few years. It has worked closely with leading partners such as Texas A&M, the College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q) and Qatar University (QU) to achieve these aims.

MOQ has shaped the focus of each of these programs around delivering against three key objectives. The first is to increase engagement and support the progress and development of students in STEM subjects from primary to high school, putting them on an early pathway to success and encouraging them to pursue university studies and later careers in these fields. The second is to build the capacity and capability of teachers and educators through enhancing and accelerating their professional development as well as providing access to leading teaching practices and tools. Thirdly, the vision is to build a strong STEM education research base accessible to high-quality graduates that promotes the application of technology to transform the learning environment.

Dr. Mansour Karkoub, professor of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, is leading a team of National Vision Scholars on a project involving robotics technology that can be used to ensure pipeline integrity. He praised the students for their commitment to learning during their summer school break. “Involving students in the grand research challenges of Qatar at an early age not only helps them choose a career path, but they also learn to appreciate the importance of the decisions they make with regard to their future,” Karkoub said. “I am excited to be working with talented young Qataris as they explore engineering through a project that can contribute to their country’s growth and development.”

Ebrahim Saad Al-Muhannadi, a National Vision Scholar, said he was proud to be part of the Summer Engineering Academy. “Such programs are contributing to building the future of Qatar and to extending growth beyond oil and LNG resources to achieve the industrial growth required to achieve Qatar’s National Vision 2030,” he said. Fellow National Vision Scholar Salem Ali Al-Marri added: “We chose to participate in this program because it is directly related to my future educational career as a mechanical engineer, and it provides us with the opportunity to explore what mechanical engineering is all about.”

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