Twenty-three exceptional Qatari students have been named National Vision Scholars in the inaugural Summer Engineering Academy (SEA), an elite, 10-day academic enrichment programme at Texas A&M University at Qatar.

SEA, which runs from 28 June through 9 July 2015, is designed for academically outstanding Qatari students who will enter grade 12 in September, said Dr Hamid Parsaei, Director of Academic Outreach at Texas A&M at Qatar. The programme engages students in research projects that are related to Qatar’s research challenges in energy, water and cyber security. Parsaei said:

The National Vision Scholars are working closely with some of our most prominent faculty researchers to help devise solutions to Qatar’s research challenges. This exciting experience introduces the students to advanced topics in engineering and science while teaching important problem-solving skills.’

Parsaei said the goal was to entice young Qataris to choose educational pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines. For that initiative, Texas A&M at Qatar partnered with Maersk Oil Qatar (MOQ) to host SEA and a 10-day Future Engineers Program, which runs parallel to SEA and engages more than 40 Qatari students rising into grades 10 and 11.

According to Deputy Managing Director of MOQ, Sheikh Faisal Al Thani, investment in human capital was essential for Qatar’s progress toward a knowledge-based economy. Sheikh Faisal said:

At MOQ, we are committed to fulfilling the potential of the country’s young people — the very people who will help shape Qatar’s future. By offering up our expertise, capabilities, resources and passion, we aim to increase curiosity, enthusiasm and engagement in STEM subjects for all students. We’re proud to support their development and look forward to helping realise the impact that these bright young minds can have on Qatar’s progress.’

As the largest private-sector supporter of STEM skills in Qatar, MOQ has played a vital role in driving the development of a number of successful educational programmes and initiatives in the past few years. It has worked closely with leading partners such as Texas A&M, the College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q) and Qatar University (QU) to achieve these aims.

MOQ has shaped the focus of each of these programmes around delivering against three key objectives. The first is to increase engagement and support the progress and development of students in STEM subjects from primary to high school, putting them on an early pathway to success and encouraging them to pursue university studies and later careers in these fields. The second is to build the capacity and capability of teachers and educators through enhancing and accelerating their professional development as well as providing access to leading teaching practices and tools. Thirdly, the vision is to build a strong STEM education research base accessible to high-quality graduates that promotes the application of technology to transform the learning environment.

Professor of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, Dr Mansour Karkoub, is leading a team of National Vision Scholars on a project involving robotics technology that can be used to ensure pipeline integrity. He praised the students for their commitment to learning during their summer school break. Karkoub said:

Involving students in the grand research challenges of Qatar at an early age not only helps them choose a career path, but they also learn to appreciate the importance of the decisions they make with regard to their future. I am excited to be working with talented young Qataris as they explore engineering through a project that can contribute to their country’s growth and development.’

A National Vision Scholar, Ebrahim Saad Al Muhannadi, said he was proud to be part of the Summer Engineering Academy. He said:

Such programmes are contributing to building the future of Qatar and to extending growth beyond oil and LNG resources to achieve the industrial growth required to achieve Qatar’s National Vision 2030.’

Fellow National Vision Scholar, Salem Ali Al Marri, added:

We chose to participate in this programme because it is directly related to my future educational career as a mechanical engineer, and it provides us with the opportunity to explore what mechanical engineering is all about.

Texas A&M University, recognised as having one of the premier engineering programmes in the world, has offered undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering at Qatar Foundation’s Education City campus since 2003, and graduate degrees in chemical engineering since fall 2011. More than 600 engineers have graduated from Texas A&M at Qatar since 2007. In addition to engineering courses, Texas A&M at Qatar provides classes in science, mathematics, liberal arts and the humanities. All four of the engineering programmes offered at Texas A&M at Qatar are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.