Posted on April 27, 2019

High school students from around Qatar learned about the science and technologies behind crime scene investigation over five days as part of the Engineering Heroes: Qatar Special Investigators (QSI) academic enrichment program hosted by Texas A&M University at Qatar.

The innovative Engineering Heroes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) outreach program focused on the forensic science and technology used by the Qatari police and the Ministry of the Interior to investigate crimes and protect the State of Qatar. Texas A&M at Qatar, together with industry sponsor Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd. (Oxy Qatar), presented Engineering Heroes, one of several STEM programs aimed at motivating young Qataris to choose educational pathways for careers in fields related to STEM.

Mr. Andrew H. Kershaw, president and general manager of Oxy Qatar said, “We are delighted in our continuing sponsorship with Texas A&M at Qatar to make STEM programs available to the Qatari community. The STEM programs are important to Qatar as well as to Occidental by preparing students as potential future workers and leaders in the energy sector. I wish overwhelming continued success for everyone who is part of the Engineering Heroes program and especially my thanks to the teachers and instructors who work tirelessly to make this program possible.”

Forensic science is the application of science and technology to collect, preserve and analyze evidence to be used in the course of a legal investigation. Participants in the camp learned the history of forensic analysis and how it evolved into today’s specialized career field. Forensic specialists require varied educational backgrounds including chemistry, physics, biology, toxicology, chemical engineering and electrical engineering. These scientific experts use microscopic examining techniques, complex instruments and mathematical principles to support law enforcement.

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The program concluded with a competition in which the participants used their forensic knowledge to investigate a mock crime. Participant Nasser Al Qahtani said this mock investigation was one of the highlights of the week. “What I loved about this program is how it is a very hands-on experience,” Al Qahtani said. “I especially enjoyed the last day as it combined all the activities that we have learned throughout the week into a very fun and informative project. This was an absolutely wonderful experience.”

QSI participant Haya Al-Naimi said her previous experience with other programs offered by Texas A&M at Qatar made her want to try other STEM programs offered by the branch campus. “The programs at Texas A&M University at Qatar are very enriching,” Al Naimi said. “I definitely recommend other students join these programs. If they have any doubts about what major to study, the programs would provide them with the information needed and gives them a deeper understanding of science and engineering.”

Hala Almughanni has also participated in a previous Texas A&M at Qatar STEM program, which she said opened her mind to different applications of science and engineering. “Engineering Heroes helped me develop my skills and I gained analytical, critical thinking, social and presentation skills. This program helped me meet new people and how to work with a diverse group of people that you normally wouldn’t meet otherwise. It was a great opportunity to meet and work with new people.”

Noor Omar said she would be able to take much of what she learned during the week’s activities back to school with her, thanks to the hands-on learning and world-class facilities and equipment available at Texas A&M at Qatar. “Engineering Heroes will be very useful to me when I go back to school. Because of the advanced equipment available at Texas A&M at Qatar, I got to learn a lot using hands-on activities and that is really cool. The program was very informative and very in-depth. Getting tours of the different laboratories and using the Scanning Electron Microscope was so educational and so much fun. This program helped give me an insight to the university experience.”

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Engineering Heroes was inspired by scientific research that is helping law enforcement solve crimes. The program was developed and led by Benjamin Cieslinski, Dr. Mohamed Gharib and Tala Katbeh of Texas A&M at Qatar’s Development, Engagement and Outreach office. Several participants, including Ahmed Al-Thani, noted the skill with which the content of the program was delivered. “I thoroughly enjoyed the program and the people teaching it made it very exciting,” Al-Thani said. “I would like to work in the STEM field in the future and having the opportunity to join these programs helps us narrow down our choices for university and learn about the topics that we enjoy. It was great learning about forensic science, how it is needed in Qatar and how it plays an effective role to the country.”

Another participant, Jana Ismail, also noted the importance of learning about how science and engineering contribute to the safety and security of the State of Qatar. “The program was so much fun and I enjoyed the hands-on activities we got to work on where we gathered information that helped us gain analytical thinking skills. This program corrected the image that TV shows put in our minds. Forensic science is much more in-depth and there are so many steps that go behind investigations. I encourage students to participate in these programs as they will learn a lot.”

Dr. César O. Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “The State of Qatar has invested in its people to develop the human capacity that it needs to drive the State toward the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030. Texas A&M at Qatar contributes to developing this human capacity engaging young students in exciting learning opportunities so that they choose careers in science and engineering. We are proud of those students who invest in their futures by participating in programs such as Engineering Heroes.”