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Texas A&M at Qatar inspires school students to design their own apps as part of STEM enrichment program

Published Mar 09, 2019

App Camp was recently presented by Texas A&M University 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.  

Thirty school students in grades 7-11 from schools across Qatar designed and coded mobile applications as part of an academic enrichment workshop organized by Texas A&M University at Qatar and sponsored by Oxy Qatar. 

During the three-day intensive App Camp, students worked in teams to design and develop mobile applications aiming to benefit the community. The students learned the fundamentals of programming and mobile app development including the basics of coding, algorithms and refining their ideas along the way.

"Oxy Qatar is honored to support in creating a foundation of learning for our future leaders in the STEM fields," said Andrew H. Kershaw, President and General Manager of Oxy Qatar. "We are committed to investing in and improving our communities, and we see tremendous value in getting young people excited about science, math and engineering. Oxy strives to support and participate in all the communities where we operate."

Participant Ahmed Alrahahleh said his interest in programming made him eager to learn more about designing his own app, and the App Camp enabled him to learn how to program and create an app, as well as how to pitch his ideas to a panel of judges by being able to work on his communication and teamwork skills. He encourages students to participate in this program as it allows to help our community by building useful programs that benefit the people.

Another student, Mohamad Shawer, had previous programming experience and said he joined the camp to expand his knowledge in this area.  Mohamad constructed a working app designed to protect people’s accounts. Additionally, Mohamad noted that, “it was very interesting to see how we can come up with professional and seemingly complex apps with such ease. We learnt how to program and come up with different designs, and the details behind the steps to build a final product. He urged students to come and join this program as they can learn a lot and maybe find a new hobby: programming!” 

Mohammed AlYafei said he learnt a lot from this workshop, including the realization that apps are not just for fun but can help people in their daily lives. “The projects we have developed in this program all have a purpose,” AlYafei said. “Our aim is to help people and make things easily available for our community. He, definitely recommends people to participate in App Camp and think about developing a product that will help others. Anything is possible here as you create your projects and you should not consider it as a burden.” 

Teachers, Salwa Ashmawy and Shirin Saleh from the AlAqsa Preparatory Independent Girls School said the program is helpful for students in deciding their future careers. 

“App Camp is a suitable program for students of this age group who are in the process of deciding what they want to specialize in the future,” they said. “App Camp helped them develop their skills and this is especially beneficial to the community and to their schools as they will be teaching other students what they have learnt. Additionally, they will be able to apply their programming skills to their research projects that they are currently working on at their school. This was a wonderful, hands-on workshop that enabled the students to produce a final product with a specific purpose to benefit users.”

Dr. César O. Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar, said outreach programs such as App Camp help young students understand the importance and impact of engineering, particularly in Qatar.

“Engineers, inventors and programmers will help drive Qatar toward success in meeting the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030,” Malavé said, “and programs such as App Camp encourage students to choose paths to careers in engineering. These students have seen firsthand how engineering and programming can help solve problems people face every day, and he hoped they learnt a lot and enjoyed their time with us. Each of our App Camp programmers and inventors have the potential to be an engineering leader in Qatar.”