Posted on December 14, 2016

Nearly 30 middle school students from nine local schools across Qatar recently participated in Engineering Explorers Program hosted by Texas A&M University at Qatar and Maersk Oil Qatar.

The four-day event aimed to familiarize young students with engineering and the science behind it. The program included science activities, hands-on engineering projects and contests to challenge students’ math and science skills. Students learned about science concepts, design, teamwork and creativity through interactive activities conducted in Texas A&M at Qatar’s state-of-the-art labs.

Maryam Abdullah al-Obaidan, who participated in the program, said she enjoyed the chemistry and robotics parts of the workshop, as well as learning about engineering as a career and 3-D printing technologies. “I like science because we can learn new stuff and I love to do experiments,” she said. “I’m thinking about medical engineering because I want to help people and animals, and I want also to be an engineer. The program taught me a lot of things like what you do in the universities. I think the other students would like to have more of these trips.”

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Du’a Fahim, math coordinator at Amna Preparatory School and Maryam al-Obaidan’s mother, said, “It was a really nice opportunity and the girls enjoyed it a lot. The most important thing is they learned what is happening in the university. I really love the program, and I hope it continues with another group of students so that they all get to have this chance. This is really important because students may not know why they are learning. So this is an opportunity to know that you’re learning so that you can go to this university, and this is your future in front of you.”

Engineering Explorers is the latest in a series of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshops offered through the Dhia: Engineering Leaders partnership between Texas A&M at Qatar and Maersk Oil Qatar designed to interest bright, young Qataris in pursuing engineering and science career paths to develop the scientific workforce Qatar needs to reach the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030. The partnership began in 2013 and has included teacher training and enrichment in addition to events for Qatar’s school children in grades 5 through 12. Through Dhia: Engineering Leaders, more than hundreds of Qatari students have benefited from more than 10,000 hours of educational outreach.

Jassim Al Khori, Deputy Head of Subsurface at Maersk Oil Qatar, said the company’s support of STEM educational initiatives such as Engineering Explorers is crucial in giving the youth of Qatar an insight into the exciting opportunities offered in science and inspire them in pursuing STEM disciplines. “Maersk Oil Qatar is proud to be Texas A&M University Qatar’s strongest partner in education and outreach, and to support Engineering Explorers and more broadly the Dhia programme. We believe passionately that science and engineering skills are extremely important for any successful society and economy and we are dedicated to promote and develop young people STEM subjects and to leave a long-term legacy for the benefit of the Qatar.”

This Engineering Explorers program focused on the stratosphere, and students learned about weather balloons, the science behind launching a balloon and the calculations involved. Students also learned about 3-D printing technology by printing a small-scale prototype of a capsule they designed to carry the equipment needed for the balloon launch. The first two days of the program focused on a range of engaging activities about science and engineering, and involved teamwork to learn design and construction problem solving. These activities and projects aimed to develop the students’ analytical thinking and teamwork skills, which will be beneficial as they pursue undergraduate studies and eventually careers in science and engineering.

Dr. César O. Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “Texas A&M at Qatar is dedicated to helping Qatar meet its need for new engineers that will move the country toward its goals. Through engaging STEM programs such as Engineering Explorers, we and Maersk Oil Qatar are inspiring a new generation of engineering leaders by encouraging Qatar’s brightest young students to pursue careers in science and engineering.”