x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

New Emirati generation to become top engineers of the future

Idex 2013: BAE Systems has developed a tie-in with Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi to train students.

ABU DHABI // Emirati students are set to become the leading technology engineers of the future with the help of one of the world's most prominent defence companies.

According to Ben Bridge, the director of BAE Systems Middle East and Africa, UAE students are capable and ready to engage in the high-technology industry.

His company has developed a tie-in with Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi to train students.

"With our five-year plan at BAE Systems, we are looking to engage and get young people more excited about being engineers," said Mr Bridge.

"There are extremely bright and ambitious people in this country and if we engage them that will certainly benefit us."

Speaking at Idex in Abu Dhabi yesterday, Dr Mohammed Al Mualla, of the university's research and development department, said: "Our aim is to engage the industry and produce graduates to fill the gap of engineers, scientists and technology developers."

In addition to the deal with BAE Systems, Khalifa University also conducts annual internships and partnership programmes with international defence technology leaders such as Raytheon and Dassault Systems, Mr Al Mualla said.

"Locally, we also work with partners such as Tawazun and Etisalat," he added.

Students are then placed in programmes that vary from summer internships to senior design projects at the university, where they use skills developed from their experiences with the companies.

"It's clear to us that the UAE youth are ready to enter the high-technology industry and take it forward," Mr Bridge said.

"As our relationship with the UAE further develops, we hope to bring our experiences and expertise that we have gained from other markets to help develop the younger Emiratis who want to take that track in the future."

Khalifa University has 1,200 undergraduate students and it hopes to produce 400 to 500 engineering graduates every year.

"We have set the curriculum for the students in a practical manner," Mr Al Mualla said. "From day one they are handed an engineering project to do and throughout their learning process they are engaged in practical engineering, design and technology projects."

A project set up by the university involves telecoms giants British Telecom and Etisalat, Mr Al Mualla added.

"We have 25 to 30 full-time researchers working in the joint innovations centre to identify the issues with these two companies and present solutions to them."

amustafa@thenational.ae