Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

UAE IN SPACE

Worldwide boost to scientist recruitment from UAE's Mars Hope probe seen by BAE

Youths inspired to sign up in greater numbers for science and engineering careers

Next week's launch of the Hope probe to Mars by the UAE is part of a worldwide return to space that is inspiring youths to sign up in greater numbers for science and engineering careers, according to the leading aerospace firm BAE systems.

The British defence firm has a rapidly expanding space and Applied Intelligence division and has worked to introduce the facilities into a internship programme it has offered in partnership with Mubadala Development Company since 2015.

Executives running the programme told The National of the boost that the UAE's drive to send the probe to Mars – that will send back data on the Martian atmosphere – will have for the industry as a whole.

"It is a very complex activity but it is incredibly aspirational for the UAE to engage in something like this," said Andy Crisp, the head of UAE collaborations for BAE Systems. "You can feel the aspiration from people involved and living here you can feel the excitement building."

The AI Labs business based in Chelmsford, just north of London, specialises in radio signals from deep space and its head Nick James said the next generation, including Emiratis, was flocking to its doors.

"Space missions inspire the younger generation to go into science and engineering There’s nothing better than a space mission," he said. "For us to prosper as an industry, we need bright young people into it. Encouraging women and minorities and others into this industry is a good thing.

"There’s a huge expansion of usage of space both for commercial and government use and there are lots of aspects of that we are involved in."

Originally established by the telecoms pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, the site hosted Maryam Al Nuaimi and Ashwaq Saleh for six-month work placements most recently.

The Emirati graduates have been praised for groundbreaking work while at the facility, helping develop new products and work out technical solutions within data systems development.

Overall about 35 Emirati graduates have travelled to the UK to work on this internship scheme and a separate 18-week programme for aerospace since the Mubadala tie-up five years ago.

The goal of the partnership is to support the UAE’s ambitions of developing a significant presence in the aerospace sector and space through sharing and transferring knowledge.

Recruitment for a new tranche of interns will resume when the pandemic conditions allow, according to Mr Crisp.

The boost to science, technology and engineering is from missions like the Hope probe which is due to lift off from Japan on July 15 is universal. From the US to the UK and the UAE the rejuvenation of the space race has brought a new dynamic to the business.

At the Chelmsford site the heritage of involvement in space missions goes back decades. "Marconi supplied the ground station equipment to the Apollo mission to the moon and now we are looking to supply services to lunar space craft 50 years on," Mr James said.

"It is [just] a radio but when you realise its receiving signals from a space craft or around a comet it gives you a real buzz."

For Mr Crisp who interviews potential beneficiaries of the scheme and then debriefs returnees the great satisfaction is the personal growth that engineers like Ms Saleh and Ms Al Nuiami display.

What really striking over the six months is the change in confidence and knowledge," he said. "We as an organisation found it extremely rewarding to have Emirati women working with us."

Updated: July 8, 2020 09:37 PM

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