The UAE Space Agency signed an agreement with eight of the country’s top universities to collaborate in space science, research and technology, the federal body announced on Saturday.
The eight institutions include the American University of Sharjah, Zayed University, University of Sharjah, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates University, Khalifa University, New York University Abu Dhabi, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.
As part of the new agreement, signed as Memorandums of Understanding, the Space Agency and its academic partners will develop and activate research centers alongside educational programs. The agency will work with the institutions to identify suitable research and education projects of mutual interest.
The MoUs also covered collaborations in regards to the implementation of the UAE’s National Space Policy initiatives.
According to the chairman of the UAE Space Agency Dr Khalifa Al Romaithi, this collaboration will support the space sector and “inspire students to think about space” by engaging with them.
“We are extremely pleased to be collaborating with such a wide range of respected entities and look forward to working closely with them,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Bani Younes, founder of the Space Centre at Khalifa University, said the agreement will be a big boost for the sector, as it is in “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,” he added. “There are a lot of problems, so this will strengthen relationships not only with students and the space agency but with academics themselves.”
The Chancellor of the American University of Sharjah Dr Bjorn Kjerfve noted the important role space and satellite technologies are assuming nationally and globally.
“AUS is interested in designing and developing educational, training and qualification programs in the scientific specialties related to space sciences, technologies and satellites for serving the public interest in the UAE,” he said.
Dr Ali Sami Alnaser, head of the department of physics at the AUS College of Arts and Sciences, agreed with the chancellor and added that funding is 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,” he said.
VP of Zayed University Professor Reyadh Al Mehaideb said that promoting space subjects at the university will help inspire aspiring astronauts and engineers.
“Zayed University has always been committed to promoting space subjects as a motivator for STEM education among its students through innovative projects and research and hosting of lectures by prominent guest speakers and leading astronauts to give a glimpse into future flights and missions,” he said.