x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Abu Dhabi science event receives royal seal

The presence of a Royal Family member to open the capital’s science exhibition sent an invaluable message to students about the worth of their work, a leading academic says.

ABU DHABI // The presence of a Royal Family member to open the capital’s science exhibition sent an invaluable message to students about the worth of their work, a leading academic says.

Day two of Expo Sciences International 2013 was officially opened on Monday by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Dr Tod Laursen, president of Khalifa University, said the official visit would have inspired confidence in the students at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

“It is a lot of hard work getting to this stage for the students and of course they take pride in what they are doing, so to have that validated by the VIPs that come through and take an interest in what they are doing, it means a great deal to them,” he said.

“It is good to know that you can become famous or well known for becoming a scientist or engineer. You don’t have to be a Premier League striker to be successful.

“The message that young people get here from the leadership is that this work is valued and I think that is an invaluable thing for them to hear.”

Flanked by a number of invited dignitaries and other VIPs, Sheikh Mansour visited many of the stands displaying the scientific prowess of international and local students, whom he thanked for their contributions.

Dr Laursen said many of the younger students taking part could well end up as Khalifa University graduates.

“A lot of the fields that we are developing at Khalifa University are new in the region, biomedical engineering or nuclear engineering, for example,” he said.

“The students studying these topics are really treading new ground and I think to get that validation from the people that they respect and lead the country is tremendously helpful for them.

“We have a robots team here as well, so Sheikh Mansour certainly got a taste of what they are capable of.

“I think an event like this, which is probably geared more to high school and early university students, actually extends to all the way through graduate school.

“This interaction between people from different cultures and different technical training backgrounds is really important to the development of scientists or engineers.”

Students were able to hear from some leading figures in the science and technology world.

Workshops were held on nuclear energy, astronomy, intellectual property and green nanotechnology among a host of others.

“We are pleased to participate in Expo Sciences International 2013 as a platinum sponsor, and support the hundreds of young bright minds here who share the common interest of contributing to science innovation here in the UAE,” said Mohammed Al Hammadi, chief executive of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.

“ESI provides the perfect platform for us to show support for our nation’s top science talent and talk to them about the rewarding career opportunities available in the UAE’s growing nuclear energy industry with Enec’s Energy Pioneers programme.”

The Emirates Foundation was also on hand to display the winning work in its Think Science initiative, which took place in Dubai in April this year.

“Some of the projects that were part of Think Science are on display here at Expo Sciences and it shows the innovation from here in the UAE to an international audience,” said Maytha Al Habsi, chief programmes officer at the foundation.

“I think this has been a great opportunity for students to learn and share their experiences with others from around the world,” Ms Al Habsi said.

ksinclair@thenational.ae