Ektashif Program Inspires UAE National Undergraduate Students with Taste of Sustainability Research

September 21, 2018

Eight talented UAE national undergraduate students completed their immersive innovation technology experience as part of the week-long Ektashif program of discovery in advanced materials, renewable energy, sustainability, and environment at Masdar Institute.  

The Ektashif program offers undergraduate students majoring in science, engineering or information technology an opportunity to experience the high-tech environment at Masdar Institute’s cutting-edge laboratory facilities. Nominated by their respective universities, the students participated in many exciting hands-on workshops and had the opportunity to discuss with Masdar Institute faculty the results of their research.

Dr Lamya Fawwaz, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Public Affairs, Masdar Institute, said, “The Ektashif program offers UAE national undergraduates an opportunity to experience the impact of research in the critically important fields of advanced materials, future energy, water, remote sensing and sustainable energy. It also helps develop the technical and problem-solving skills of its participants. We are proud to offer this program as part of Masdar Institute’s efforts to help produce the talented human capital needed to realize the UAE’s sustainability targets.”

The workshops at Ektashif were on the topics of ‘3D printing,’ ‘Earth Observation Lab,’ ‘Direct Methanol Fuel Cells,’ ‘Power Electronics,’ ‘Build A Robot,’ ‘Waste Material Characterization,’ and ‘Algae: From Biofuels to Human Health.’ The participants were also taken on a site tour to Emirates Hydroponics Farms, Abu Dhabi, to witness how high quality produce is grown utilizing modern water-saving techniques.

Dr. Ken Volk, Outreach Manager, Masdar Institute, said: “The Ektashif program seeks talented UAE national undergraduate students with a penchant for innovation in science and technology. This group of students were enthusiastic in their learning pursuits and we believe the experience will encourage them to return to Masdar Institute, to continue their pursuit of innovation.”  

Dr. Saif Almheiri, Assistant Professor, Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Masdar Institute, led a workshop on Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFCs), which are considered a viable alternative to lithium-ion batteries for powering the next generation of mobile devices. The workshop introduced the participants to the different components that make a single-cell fuel cell, ways to assemble a fuel cell, as well as perform preliminary performance testing.  

Dr. Almheiri said: “It was exciting to meet a young generation of UAE nationals who were eager to learn about the physics and chemistry of fuel cells. The questions they asked me during Ektashif showed they were very determined to understand the fundamental principles. I was amazed by their ability to grasp new concepts. I expect them to be excellent researchers if they choose to join Masdar Institute.”  

Dr. Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, hosted the workshop on 3D printing, which every participant found interesting and informative. The professor explained: “The students were motivated and proactive. They were keen to know how 3D printing reduces material waste and speeds up the manufacturing of many products for various industries, including aerospace and automotive sectors.”  

Further enriching the visiting students’ experience were the first-hand presentations by Masdar Institute students, who talked about their academic programs and thesis research in addition to their overall experiences as students.  

Expert faculty members also offered participants an insight into the process of writing research abstracts, as required for research theses, journal articles, dissertations and applications. Writing effective literature reviews, and ways to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism through the proper use of citations, paraphrasing, and organization in research communication was also provided to participants.  

Abdelaziz Saeed Alzaabi, from Khalifa University, said he found the Ektashif program useful as he learnt about remote sensing and how this can help locate oil spill or red tide in the sea. Alzaabi said: “Ektashif offered me experience in diverse engineering fields and I believe this will help me chose my Master’s program.”  

Dalal Mohammed Obaid, from UAE University, said Ektashif gave her first experience of building a robot. She said: “I learnt many new things related to mechanical and electrical engineering, including how to construct an electrical circuit and build a robot. I also learnt the possible ways to get profitable products from even waste materials. This definitely was a useful program.” Obaid will be pursuing her graduate studies at Masdar Institute.  

UAE University electrical engineering student Ghanem Alkalbani found the session on power electronics relevant to his studies. Alkalbani said: “I learnt how everything could be possible and even the simplest idea may become a successful project that can solve the biggest challenges. The Ektashif program helped me to delve deeper into my subject “


Clarence Michaels
News Writer
19 April 2016