The UAE’s first ever all-female team returned after successfully completing on-site space training at the Space Centre Houston, organised and coordinated by Space Ed-Ventures.

Space Ed-Ventures, a locally based educational platform and the region’s only space exploration programme, organised a once-in-a-lifetime training session for 24 aspiring engineers, researchers and astronauts between the age group of 12 and 18. After a rigorous screening process, the all-girl cohort was selected to train at the Space Centre Houston.

 

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“The 24 students who have embarked on this educational trip have gone through an extensive screening process to uphold the Institute of Applied Technology’s (IAT) high educational standard on an international level,” said the managing director of IAT,” Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi.

After a week of intensive aerospace engineering and youth space training programme at the Houston Space Centre which is the visitors centre of Nasa Johnson Space Centre, the returning space explorers enthused at the idea of following this illustrious career path. Maitha Al Zeyoudi, a 12th grade student at the Applied Technology High School (ATHS), realised how lucky she was to be nominated for this out-of-world trip.

“I had applied for this trip as it allowed me to further explore my interest in space and science. I was excited to know that we were going to be able to see how real astronauts train for a mission. Once there, the reality was even better that I imagined. We visited astronaut training centres, a mission control room, and prepping stations. We learned how space shuttles are built, and how living in space feels like. We also learned the importance of space exploration that targets the collection of samples for analysis and study. The most interesting part of our trip was launching our own rocket.”

Based on their academic merit and fluency in English, the top 24 applicants who made it to the team, worked on projects that simulate real-life scenarios, troubleshooting and creating solutions in groups. From designing functioning rockets to engineering and operating robotic Mars rovers, their assignments mimicked the obstacles astronauts at Nasa face on a daily basis. The students were also presented the opportunity to meet returning space explorers with real-world experience either in the control room or on the shuttle.

“This trip has been an eye-opening experience for me. It has fuelled my interest in pursuing a career in science and engineering. I really would like to thank the IAT and Space Ed-Ventures for making this trip a reality for me and the other girls, and I hope they continue to provide such an amazing experience to more students in the future,” raved Maitha Al Zeyoudi, reliving the week-long trip.

According to Dave Brown, education programme coordinator at Space Centre Houston: “All students have potential”. Brown outlined the five key characteristics that the Space Centre Houston looks for in their Space School applicants, displayed by the UAE team, as “the willingness to learn; being motivated; having a creative mind; taking fiscal responsibility; and displaying leadership skills.”

“Each student here has shown a strong desire to do their very best in each project and task they have been given,” he said, referring to the all-girl delegation.

 

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