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Week-Long ‘Ektashif’ Outreach Program at Masdar Institute Concludes

22 Emirati Undergraduates Enthusiastically Participate in Action Labs, Organized Tours, Lectures, Presentations and Team-Building Activities

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 09 July, 2013 – Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced that 22 UAE national undergraduates have successfully concluded their week-long hands-on lab experience under the second annual ‘Ektashif’ outreach program.

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In the presence of the Mr. Hamza Kazim, Vice President, Operations & Finance, Dr Kenneth Volk, Outreach Manager, awarded certificates of participation to students during a special ceremony held at the Masdar Institute campus. The residential program brought together talented UAE undergraduate engineering and science students to discover and learn about renewable energy, sustainability and the environment in the research-oriented atmosphere of Masdar Institute.

Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “The second annual ‘Ektashif’ outreach program proved to be a rich and rewarding experience for the UAE national undergraduates. Participants were enthusiastically involved in the action labs, organized tours, lectures, presentations and team-building activities. The support from the country’s leadership has enabled us to offer students a wide spectrum of programs and helped them enhance their innovative skills. We hope they will apply their new skills towards better academic performance as well as for adopting the sustainability concept in future.”

A wide spectrum of workshops were offered to the participants. An eight-member team of research engineers, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students headed by Dr. Imen Gherboudj, Research Associate, coordinated a workshop on the Earth Observation Lab and its activities. Nafeez Bin Taher, Lab Instructor, offered an ‘Introduction to Digital Electronics’ at a workshop on the basics of combinatorial logic circuits, while Dr Iyad Rahwan, Professor of Computing & Information Science, and Aamena Al Shamsi, PhD student, led a workshop on Data Mining.

Dr Isam Janajreh, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, conducted two lab activities and discussed pathways for converting waste into an added value product, while Dr I-Tsung Tsai, Professor of Engineering Systems & Management, led a workshop on the design of sustainable energy policy for complex energy economic systems and the financial strategies to promote clean tech investment.

Participants monitored the deformation of a model structure using optical fibers under the guidance of Dr Marcus Dahlem, Professor of Microsystems Engineering, and Dr Jaime Viegas, Professor of Microsystems Engineering, while Mike Tiner, Manager of the Fabrication and Microscopy Facilities, joined Dr Mustapha Jouiad, Analytical Instructor, Laboratories, to introduce participants to the optical microscope station and the electron microscopes.

‘Implementation of Buck and Boost DC-DC converters’, one of the applications of ‘power electronics’, was introduced by Professor Dr Vinod Khadkikar, Electrical Power Engineering program, and Parag Kanjiya, Research Engineer. At the Microbial Environmental and Chemical Engineering Laboratory (MECEL), Dr Hector Hernandez, Professor of Chemical Engineering, elaborated on applying biotechnology tools and engineering principles to address challenges facing society in the areas of energy, climate change, as well as the effects of environmental change and invasive species on ecosystem health.

Among the presentations, Dr Viegas highlighted ‘Lasers, How They Work and What We Can Do With Them and Their Role in the 21st Century’. Ahmed Al Harethi, a Chemical Engineering graduate, and Sultan Al Awadhi, an Engineering Systems and Management graduate and a Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) member, discussed their MSc research, as well as their experiences at Masdar Institute.

Kevin Garvey, Lecturer, presented ways to define and describe key principles required to establish and support an effective research argument, while Lecturers Bridie Farah and Glenda El Gamal guided the students on writing effective literature reviews and offered tips on avoiding the pitfalls of plagiarism through the proper use of citations, paraphrasing, and organization in their research communication.

The program also included a site tour of Emirates Aluminum Company (EMAL) facilities at Taweelah.

Lecturer Farah found the students ‘bright and highly motivated’, while Dr Tsai termed them ‘energetic and enthusiastic in finding solutions to sustainable development’. Dr Viegas observed that the students had ‘curious minds and strong interest in engaging on advanced technological topics that are part of Masdar Institute research foci’.

Garvey, who held the lector titled ‘Academic Communication, Critical Thinking and Research Methodology’, said: “The aptitude and enthusiasm demonstrated by the Ektashif group during my workshop on The Development of Academic Argument was highly encouraging. I would be delighted to welcome these young students to Masdar Institute as pioneers in a field they clearly are well suited to.”

Mariam Ahmed Al Dhaheri, Mechanical Engineering student at UAEU, said, “This was my first time at Masdar Institute and I am pleased to be part of this amazing program,asit left a deep and positive impact on me. The hands-on lab sessions were remarkable, and seeing some of the unique devices that we don't usually see in our universities gave me a much broader view on what people are capable of when they go for research in my own country and that made me proud and motivated to be part of it. What I find very impressive about the faculty at Masdar Institute is that each one of them is so enthusiastic and passionate about what they are doing. That gave me positive energy throughout the whole day and showed me the right attitude one must have toward work, colleagues and students. The encouraging environment and faculty made me consider Masdar Institute for my master's studies. And most importantly I want to make my country and leaders proud, as they have provided us with facilities to be productive and serve this beloved country.”

Ohoud S. ALZahmi, Civil Engineering student at UAEU, said, “I am proud to be one of the members of the Ektashif Program. I'm proud to have these great technologies, machines, staff, instructors, and professors in my country. I was lucky to see and participate in the labs and lectures there. I enjoyed my journey of discovery there. I will share the experience with my family and friends. Hopefully I can shine in Masdar Institute’s sky after I graduate from UAEU.”

Maryam Rashed AlMazrouei, Chemical Engineering student at UAEU, said, “I always wondered what was happening up there in Masdar Institute and I really wanted to discover it. Ektashif program gave me that chance, and it was one of the best experiences I ever had. I learnt new things about lasers, electronics, biofuel and other technologies. Going deeply in the nano scale was amazing. The topics were important and the presented material was sufficient. Everyone has potential and can make it to the top by dedication and hard working.”

A residential program, Ektashif seeks to bring together talented UAE undergraduate engineering and science students to discover and learn about renewable energy, sustainability and the environment.    It also aims to encourage students to consider taking research and innovation in clean energy and sustainability beyond the campus into the wider community.

Serving as a key pillar of innovation and human capital, Masdar Institute remains fundamental to Masdar’s core objectives of developing Abu Dhabi’s knowledge economy and finding solutions to humanity’s toughest challenges such as climate change.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.  With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.

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