DUBAI // Academics have welcomed a new agreement between the UAE Space Agency and eight universities as a way of developing much-needed manpower for the country’s space industry.
As part of the agreement between University of Sharjah, Zayed University, the American University of Sharjah, Khalifa University, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates University, New York University Abu Dhabi, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, research centres will be developed alongside educational programmes.
Dr Ahmad Bani Younes, founder of the Space Centre at Khalifa University, said the agreement will be a big boost for the sector.
“If you look at the way the UAE’s space centre has been promoted you will see the need for manpower to support its development. Building relationships with universities and curriculums will get students ready for space development. There are also faculty (staff) interested in doing research in space.
“There are a lot of problems which are still unsolved, so this will strengthen relationships not only with students and the space agency, but with academics themselves.”
Dr Bjorn Kjerfve, chancellor of the American University of Sharjah, said space science and satellite technologies are assuming an increasingly important role nationally and internationally.
“AUS is interested in designing and developing educational, training and qualification programmes in the scientific specialties related to space sciences, technologies and satellites for serving the public interest in the UAE.”
Dr Ali Sami Alnaser, head of the department of physics at the AUS College of Arts and Sciences, agreed.
“This establishes a modus operandi for space research in the UAE by setting up a plan for long-term collaborations. It will ensure that projects are not one-offs and that researchers, academics, and students can plan ahead.”
He said funding is the priority.
“As long as financial resources are available, one must be positive and entrepreneurial. One also hopes that such projects can entice the international community to take part in ambitious projects with institutions in the UAE, thus the nation will become an important player in space projects.
“It is important that all the main universities in the UAE buy into this general Emirati project of space science, research and development. This will encourage multitudes of scientists and students to take part in this era of fast and bold scientific progress.”
Dr Khalifa Al Romaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said that by collaborating with academic institutions within the UAE, the agency will be “directly engaging with students in order to inspire them to think about space, technology, and their role in building the future of our country”.
NYU Abu Dhabi provost Fabio Piano said the agreement was a huge push and showed support for universities to develop space science.
“This agreement is an important foundation in building NYU Abu Dhabi’s capacity to push the frontier of space science and to inspire the next generation of global leaders about the wonders of space and the importance of exploration. It will connect the NYU Abu Dhabi academic and research environment to the UAE Space Agency in a meaningful and purposeful way, allowing us to identify opportunities for collaboration and partnership and to positively contribute to the space sector in the UAE and beyond.”