MIT ‘Terrascope Class’ visits Abu Dhabi

September 21, 2018

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the Middle East’s first graduate research institution dedicated to alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability, welcomed a group of students from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of a five-day fieldtrip to Abu Dhabi to study the practical application of technology in renewable energy solutions.

Thirty-two first-year undergraduate students, 16 upper-class students, 4 MIT alumni mentors, and 4 staff members travelled from the United States on an intensive study tour to explore Abu Dhabi’s efforts in the capture and storage of CO2 and to gain practical knowledge in carbon sequestration through Masdar’s carbon management program. The study tour has included lectures presented by Masdar Executives and Masdar Institute faculty, as well as visits to various sites at Masdar City where testing of renewable energy technologies is taking place. The fieldtrip is part of a yearlong, focused study effort for first year students at MIT, known as the Terrascope Program. Each year the program starts with a Mission to solve an “unsolvable” or very complex problem.

This year’s mission is the global problem of rising levels of CO2. The class explored ways of reducing global output as well as methods for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and then developed a mitigated and abatement plan for the coming decades. Part of Terrascope’s goal is to provide MIT students the opportunity to visit different parts of the world in the pursuit of its academic mission to help solve complex global problems. Because this year’s real world problem is the steady rise of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere, the Masdar Institute, which has been established with the advice and assistance of MIT, makes Abu Dhabi the ideal global location to witness the application of technical solutions to CO2 mitigation and abatement firsthand.

“I’m delighted to welcome the first MIT student field trip to Masdar Institute. This visit exemplifies the nature and strength of the relationship between Masdar Institute and MIT and the relationship’s interdisciplinary approach to academics and research”, said Dr. John Perkins, Provost of Masdar Institute.”
“Our close relationship with MIT continues to evolve and develop with time and I hope that this will be the first of many student visits and exchanges between Masdar Institute and MIT,” added Dr Perkins.

“Many global challenges are too big and complex to be solved by any one person or discipline and must involve integration and team work. The Terrascope Program attempts to teach students, early in their academic careers, how to build teams and develop solutions to real world problems that require multidisciplinary approaches,” explained MIT Professor, Sam Bowring.

The Terrascope Program at MIT was established in 2002 to provide students with hands-on experience in exploring and studying different and important problems facing the world. Past fieldtrips include visits to the Brazilian Amazon, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the Galapagos, Chile, New Orleans, Iceland and Arizona. The March 21-26 visit to Abu Dhabi, hosted by Masdar and Masdar Institute faculty and students, provided the students with both academic and cultural experiences including a wide range of technical presentations centering on the creation of Masdar City. This year’s trip has been sponsored by the Massiah Foundation.

“This field trip brings the challenges of working with multiple global partners to develop commercial scale, sustainable energy solutions, to life and makes it real to this year’s Terrascope class.”, added Professor Bowring. Dr. Marwan Khraisheh, Dean of Engineering, Masdar Institute commented that: “The multidisciplinary academic and research approach of Masdar Institute, combined with the Masdar Initiative’s opportunity to test and deploy new technologies on an unrivalled scale, makes Abu Dhabi perhaps the best place for MIT students to experience firsthand the cutting-edge innovation and critical thinking that is going on in renewable energy solutions. I hope the visit to Abu Dhabi and Masdar will live long in the student’s memories and inspire innovative responses to their mission on carbon sequestration.