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UAE University to start space science programme to prepare youth for UAE future

Abu Dhabi: A new Space Science Track will be introduced at the United Arab Emirates University’s Physics Department at the start of the 2018-2019 academic year, the university announced in a statement.

The track, which will be made available for undergraduate students 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 as graduates from this programme can participate in different activities related to space science,” said Dr Ahmad Murad, dean of the College of Science at the university.

“[The UAE has plans to build] the Mars Scientific City 2117, which is a long-term vision and requires graduates from science and engineering. This is the first step in that plan,” he said.

Another initiative will also be launched 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 who 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 programme and we will have six new courses in this Minor programme,” Dr Murad said.

“The courses 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 have been hired for space science, adding to a current member at the university. Students will be accepted into the programme when the university resumes classes in September.

“The UAE is a dynamic country, so our curriculum needs to be dynamic and meet the demands of the country. Space science is one of the strategic priorities of the nation so we are responding, as a university and a college of science, to this call by establishing this Space Track programme,” Dr Murad said.

He added that the programme will help in building the capacity of the nation in space science, channelling students to study related topics to their future careers.

Some vital courses that will be on offer in the new programmes include the introductory concepts of space science, the application of Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing in space science, technologies for launching satellites, planetary science, earth sphere and other related topics.

“Students who join the programme will have to finish a research-oriented project before their graduation, as we prioritise research at the university,” Dr Murad said.

The university also plans to establish an interdisciplinary Master’s programme between the Colleges of Science, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Information Technology in space science.

“The proposal is 30 per cent ready and we will take feedback from different entities in the country before starting the process of approval, which could probably take a year or so,” Dr Murad said.

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