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Texas A&M at Qatar hosts annual Summer Engineering Academy for exceptional National Vision Scholars

Published Aug 07, 2019

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Texas A&M University at Qatar recently hosted 24 high school students for a three-week STEM program designed to encourage them to engineer solutions to Qatar’s grand challenges. 

The Summer Engineering Academy (SEA) introduces rising seniors — referred to as National Vision Scholars — to advanced topics in engineering and science while teaching important problem-solving skills. Students work with faculty mentors and STEM experts Benjamin Cieslinski, Dr. Mohamed Gharib and Tala Katbeh to develop research projects and communicate their results through a presentation in front of judgesm, including research posters and a video.

Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd. (Oxy Qatar) sponsored the Summer Engineering Academy presented by Texas A&M at Qatar. Oxy Qatar teamed up with Texas A&M to support Qatar’s efforts to attract young Qataris to STEM education and careers. 

"Occidental is aligned to the Qatar National Vision 2030 by supporting the next generations with education in STEM as well as innovation. Texas A&M is developing bright and ambitious students that can transform the future,” said Andrew H. Kershaw, President and General Manager of Oxy Qatar.

“It is almost limitless what these students can achieve and with a solid STEM foundation they are the future leaders of our industries. We at Oxy strive to be the Partner of Choice where ever we operate and we are incredibly excited to be the sponsor of this program.  We congratulate Dean Cesar and all those at Texas A&M who have worked selflessly to make these initiatives happen."

After the success of the past few years, this year’s academy led students through a focused engineering project in one of Texas A&M at Qatar’s four engineering disciplines. Participants worked with Texas A&M faculty and staff members on real-life, relevant, hands-on research projects related to Qatar’s grand research challenges. This year’s projects focused on investigating the value-efficiency of alternative fuel sources (chemical engineering); testing a new design for robust, secure cloud storage (electrical and computer engineering); experimenting with building durable, robust furniture out of recycled water bottles (mechanical engineering); and studying ways to maximize fuel recovery in complex reservoirs (petroleum engineering).

The petroleum engineering team of Abdulaziz Alderham, Dhruv Anand, Ghalya Al-Emadi, Haya AlNaimi, Noor Al Banna and Ruba Yousif won the overall competition for their project. The team was mentored by Dr. Nayef Alyafei and Dr. Thomas Seers, as well as current Texas A&M at Qatar petroleum engineering sophomore Sara Albanna.

AlNaimi, who was on the winning team, said, “It’s really hard to decide what you want to study so when you explore these programs, they give you insight into what you are interested in. The environment here at Texas A&M at Qatar is very empowering, and the faculty and staff are all very supportive. Even when I made mistakes, they tried to guide me with their feedback and that was great as it helps me become more independent.”

Participant Wisam Gadam, nominated as the best presenter, said, “I am very interested in STEM disciplines and research. I expected to get more insight into computer engineering, and it was an enjoyable experience working on an interesting project while learning about coding and the theory behind error correcting codes. To any students who are considering to participate in the Summer Engineering Academy: go for it! You will surely learn a lot about engineering, and it can help you decide which type of engineering you would like more.”

Fatima Al Mousawi said, “I am interested in studying electrical engineering, and after this program, I am convinced that this is what I want to do. I enjoyed the theoretical lectures we initially had in the program, as it was all new material, which was exciting. After starting the practical work on the research project, everything started to make sense as we connected the theory with the experimental work. Overall, this program was enjoyable and I liked how we collaborated as a team. I encourage students to apply to this program as it was worth my time this summer." 

Texas A&M at Qatar’s STEM outreach programs such as the Summer Engineering Academy is a critical component of the branch campus’s mission to help develop human capacity in Qatar, said dean Dr. César Octavio Malavé.

“Each of these exceptional National Vision Scholars has the potential to be a future engineering leader in Qatar,” Malavé said. “Qatar needs scientists and engineers to continue the tremendous momentum it has built over the past few years and drive this country toward meeting the goals of its National Vision 2030. I hope these students choose to continue to expand their knowledge in their chosen engineering fields, and I hope to see them enrolled at Texas A&M at Qatar in Fall 2020.”

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