New space program to prepare youth for UAE’s future plans

A new Space Science Track will be introduced at the United Arab Emirates University’s Physics Department in September, with the beginning of the new academic year 2018-2019.

The track, which will be made available for undergraduates in the Physics Department, was created in response to the new UAE’s initiative and vision to be a pioneer in space science.

“This will help the country for graduates from this program to participate in different activities related to space science,” said Professor Ahmed Murad, Dean of the College of Science. “We have the Mars Scientific City 2117, which is a long plan and needs graduates from science and engineering. This is the first step in that plan.”

The second step will take place at the beginning of the semester, when the College of Science will work to prepare another proposal in Space Science as a Minor. Open to all undergraduate students at the university, the Minor is considered a diluted version of the Space Science Track in the Physics Department. Its aim is to increase the number of students that have interest and ideas about space science and the future direction of the UAE.

“A total of 18 credit hours will be designed for the Space Track program and we will have six new courses in this minor program,” Dr. Murad said. “They will include an introduction to the concepts of space science and will hopefully end with a small project that students can handle.”

So far, three new faculty members were hired in space science, adding to a current member at the university. “The UAE is a dynamic country, so our curriculum needs to be dynamic and meet the demand of the country,” he added. “Space science is one of the strategic priorities of the nation so we are responding, as a university and College of Science, to this call by establishing this Space Track program.”

Dr. Murad believes it will help in building a capacity of the nation in space science, channeling them to study related topics in the future.

Another plan the university has in the pipeline is to establish an interdisciplinary Master program between the College of Science, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences and Information Technology in space science in the future. “The proposal is 30 per cent ready and we will take feedback from the different entities concerned in the country before starting the process of approval, which could probably take one year from now,” he said. “We already received approval for the Space Science Track and we will start accepting students by September. We were recommended to open up the Minor program next.”

Some vital courses that will be on offer include the concept related to space science, the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing in Space Science, Technology for Launching Satellites, Planetary Science, Earth Sphere and other related topics. “Students need to take a research-oriented project before their graduation, as we pay attention to research,” Dr. Murad said. “Nowadays, it is important to have to distinguish ourselves from the other nations. I believe space has a lot of potential, and we need to move forward – I am sure that, within five years, we will be the focal hub for space science in the region and the world. We invest a lot, the budget is available, and the country puts all its resources to achieve this project so I am sure, with this support, we will reach the goal.”

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Aug 7, 2018