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US firm sets UAE course for the stars

posted on 21/07/2016: 2639 views

Emirati scientists and engineers will soon be trained by world-renowned space agencies, including Nasa, through a programme launched by Lockheed Martin at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

The four-month training course, which begins next month in collaboration with the UAE Space Agency, will send up to 20 aerospace professionals from across the country to the US to learn more about space flight and orbital mechanics.

"We want to inspire the next generation of Emiratis as part of this knowledge-based economy and share some of that knowledge we have with the most important part of any country's human capital," said Shawn Racz, manager of Lockheed Martin's Centre for Innovation and Security Solutions in Abu Dhabi.

"It goes back to the sustainability mission. Sustainment can cover so many areas and one of them is having a sustainable economy, so it's all about the transfer of knowledge.

"We need individuals who can run their economy and apply it in their home country and it's about finding who are the key leaders for tomorrow."

Between 15 and 20 Emiratis working at Mubadala, Thuraya, Yahsat, the Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre will spend their first month, five days a week, at the centre in Abu Dhabi to take part in lectures with experts from Lockheed Martin.

Afternoons will be dedicated to research projects and lectures from US space industries and other organisations in the UAE, such as Mubadala.

"Space and sustainability are so interconnected," said Anthony Mallows, executive director of Masdar City.

"The exploration of space is how you maximise anything from human resources to technology and material resources to get somewhere, because you have to do it incredibly efficiently. The purpose of what we do at Masdar with sustainability is to do more with less.

"So the lessons learnt with Lockheed Martin, with talented Emiratis in space and understanding it, gives you a value system of how to do more with less."

The students will participate in almost 200 hours of combined coursework, training, immersive experiences and professional development.

The second month will be spent in the US, including a week in Cape Canaveral, the home of Nasa's launch pad, to witness the launch of the spacecraft Osiris-Rex, which is expected to travel to an asteroid near Earth and bring a small sample back.

The group will then move to Denver, Lockheed's headquarters for all space operations, to experience at first hand the US space industry in action.

The visit will end in Washington DC, to learn about the governmental side of space exploration, before returning to the UAE for research projects due for presentation in November.

"This idea of space and sustainability ties back into the cultural value system of the UAE," Mr Mallows said. "But with technology development by Lockheed, it takes us forward."

The programme is one of several introduced by the company at Masdar, including one on the software Prepar3D, which allows students to experience simulated flights and different emergency situations.

"It is a very interactive and fun course," said Azza Al Bakr, a 24-year-old microsystems engineer from Ras Al Khaimah.

"We learnt how to fly an F-22 and other aircraft and develop critical thinking skills that are applied in aerospace and engineering.

"The UAE is growing in the space industry, so it's a good opportunity for me to take part in it."

Prepar3D teaches students how to fly and solve challenges, such as engine or battery failure as well as wind turbulence.

"Azza is one of the best students visiting the centre and she did a great job in the simulation course," Mr Racz said. "Our -engineers who design these scenarios take the same course."

The ultimate goal of the training is to develop a conveyor belt of talent for the UAE's space industry, and support the overall aerospace educational ecosystem in the country. – The National -


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