The UAE’s first ever all-female team returned after successfully completing on-site space training at Space Center Houston, organised and coordinated by Space Ed-Ventures.
Space Ed-Ventures, a locally based educational platform and the region’s only space exploration programme, organised a once-in-a-lifetime training session for 24 aspiring engineers, researchers and astronauts between the ages of 12 and 18.
After a rigorous screening process, the all-girl cohort was selected to train at Space Center Houston.
"The 24 students who have embarked on this educational trip have gone through an extensive screening process to uphold IAT’s high educational standard on an international level," said the Managing Director of the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT)," Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi.
"We encourage and support our students to sign up in stimulating educational programmes that can benefit their future.
“We work in unison with Space Ed-Ventures, a regional leader in providing space related educational programs to students, to encourage students to test their skills and knowledge and to nurture the students’ interest in space, science, and technology," added Dr. Al Shamsi.
On his part, CEO of Space Ed-Ventures, Hussain Al Ansari, added, "I am very happy with the conclusion of this trip.
“It was very inspiring to see the students commit to the work and get the job done. They were dedicated to their project and proved to all their capabilities."
After the week intensive aerospace engineering and youth space training programme at Houston Space Center which is the visitors Center of Nasa Johnson Space Centre, the returning space explorers enthused at the idea of following this illustrious career path.
Maitha Al Zeyoudi, a 12th grade student at Applied Technology High School (ATHS), realised how lucky she was to be nominated for this out-of-world trip.
"I had applied for this trip as it allowed me to further explore my interest in space and science. I was excited to know that we were going to be able to see how real astronauts train for a mission.
“Once there, the reality was even better that I imagined. We visited astronaut training centers, a mission control room, and prepping stations. We learned how space shuttles are built, and how living in space feels like. We also learned the importance of space exploration that targets the collection of samples for analysis and study. The most interesting part of our trip was launching our own rocket."
Chosen based on their academic merit and fluency in English, the top 24 applicants who made the cut worked on projects that simulate real-life scenarios, troubleshooting and creating solutions in groups.
From designing functioning rockets to engineering and operating robotic Mars rovers, their assignments mimicked the obstacles astronauts at Nasa face on a daily basis.
The students were also presented the opportunity to meet returning space explorers with real-world experience either in the control room or on the shuttle.
"This trip has been an eye-opening experience for me. It has fuelled my interest in pursuing a career in science and engineering.
“I really would like to thank the Institute of Applied Technology and Space Ed-Ventures for making this trip a reality for me and the other girls, and I hope they continue to provide such an amazing experience to more students in the future," raved Maitha Al Zeyoudi, reliving the week-long trip.
According to Dave Brown, Education Program Coordinator at Space Centre Houston, "All students have potential".
Brown outlined the five key characteristics Space Center Houston looks for in their Space School applicants, as displayed by the candidates from the UAE, as "the willingness to learn; being motivated; having a creative mind; taking fiscal responsibility; and displaying leadership skills."
"Each student here has shown a strong desire to do their very best at each project and task they have been given," Brown added, referring to the all-girl delegation.
As the GCC’s pioneering youth programme that can be tailor-made to run for up to 4 weeks, Space Ed-Ventures allows students with an inclination towards science and engineering to hone their interest with focused theoretical and practical space training onsite at Space Center Houston.
"The success with this trip comes in line with the success we have experienced with our batches earlier in the year that had attended Space Center Houston.
“Our 60 students who have already been on this trip came back with a very positive experience to share with their friends, and as the programme complements our curriculum, we are encouraged to continue sending our students on this educational trip," said Senior Manager, Student Services Department at IAT, Ahmed Al Mulla.
Al Ansari concluded: "Space Ed-Ventures will continue to support student exploration in the fields of space, science and technology. We have a lot of things planned for 2013, so fasten your seat belts."