Strong skills in math and science are the foundation for the work of engineers solving problems in support of Qatar’s growth: That’s the message to talented young Qataris who are participating in the Young Engineers and Scientists programme series being implemented by Texas A&M University at Qatar and Maersk Oil Qatar.

Texas A&M at Qatar developed the Young Engineers and Scientists programme in response to academic research that shows that engagement of young students can stimulate their interest in math and science, said Dr Hamid R Parsaei, director of academic outreach and professor of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar. Parsaei said:

We are cultivating students’ interest in STEM disciplines by helping them understand how those fields relate. We’ve changed the equation for putting students on educational pathways for math, science and engineering, and we started that process by making learning fun.’

Maersk Oil Qatar is the university’s exclusive sponsor and industry partner for Young Engineers and Scientists, which reflects the company’s strategic investment in human development toward the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030, according to Sheikh Faisal bin Fahad Al Thani, Deputy Managing Director of Maersk Oil Qatar.

In partnership with Qatar Petroleum (QP), Maersk Oil Qatar operates one of the world’s most complex offshore fields, Al Shaheen. It produces around one-third of Qatar’s oil. Turning marginal and challenging fields into successes has been the cornerstone of Maersk Oil’s growth since it began in 1962. This is particularly true in Qatar, where Maersk Oil took over the Al Shaheen field in the early 1990s at a time when others walked away. Maersk Oil has now recovered in excess of one billion barrels of oil from the field, which currently produces around 300,000 barrels of oil per day. Success has come from Maersk Oil’s experience, expertise and close relationships. Sheikh Faisal said:

As the country’s largest oil producer, Maersk Oil Qatar recognises the importance of nurturing and developing interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are known as STEM disciplines. Maersk Oil Qatar and Texas A&M at Qatar are making a real difference in STEM education locally and in engineering the leaders of tomorrow. We are pleased to support this initiative every year to attract and inspire the next generation to follow a technical educational track that can lead to successful and rewarding careers in industries like oil and gas…And this programme’s unique format means that the students gain experience in a broad range of engineering disciplines in a fun and practical way, helping them to develop new knowledge and skills that will inspire a lifetime’s passion for the sciences.’

Dr Mazen Saghir, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Benjamin Cieslinski, manager of science laboratories, are leading the implementation of Young Engineers and Scientists with the help of lab instructors and staff from the university’s engineering and science programmes. Cieslinski said:

These Young Engineers and Scientists are excited to see the practical side of their learning. As we help them understand connections between math, science, engineering and design, the students begin to appreciate their own talents and instincts for solving problems.’

Approximately 150 Qatari students participated in the programme in April, and overall the Young Engineers and Scientists programme is scheduled to engage more than 400 Qatari students in grades 5 and 6 this spring, said Jowaher Al Marri, programme coordinator for STEM development for Texas A&M at Qatar. Al Marri said:

These young Qataris are the future of our country’s knowledge-based society. We are encouraged by the high level of enthusiasm schools and students show for these programmes, and I am proud to see the impact of our partnership with Maersk Oil in enriching Qatar’s greatest natural resource, its people.’

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.