October 11, 2021 | technology

Inspiring budding engineers


Pilots and engineers of the future have been inspired by an interactive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) event held at the UK Pavilion in partnership with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) aerobatic team the Red Arrows, and Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

Drones, robots, 3-D printing, and Formula One-style car building were featured during the learning session, providing an in-depth look at the field of engineering and the scale of opportunities for new generations.

Tadgh O’Donovan, Professor, Deputy Vice Principle and Head of Engineering, Heriot-Watt University Dubai told Expo News: “Sometimes people think engineering is all about maths and science, but there is so much more to it - and it’s so much fun. Engineers don’t do things twice. I always encourage my classes to play with the technology - it’s not an assignment. If students are not excited to get involved, then we’re doing it wrong! It’s for all ages; you’ll see kids here today as young as three years old looking up at the skies and seeing the amazing Red Arrows fly and they’ll wonder ‘how does that happen?’ and ‘how can I be a part of that?’”

O’Donovan added: “We have 60 members of the RAF here today; this entourage includes engineers and technicians - it’s not just one person flying the aircraft. It’s a great example of precision engineering.”

Abdulomonem Mohamed, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) student from the British University was on hand to help younger visitors tap into the possibilities: “I’m demonstrating how to drive drones, print 3-D cars and help them to connect the small pieces of the electric cars together.”

“I love the robots here,” Seth Garrity, an eight-year-old from Australia, told Expo News. “And I can’t wait to see the Red Arrow that’s being 3-D printed. They said it would be finished by 6pm, so we’ll come back later to see it.”

O’Donovan hailed Expo 2020 as the best stage in the world to display innovation, predicting that sustainability will be Expo’s most significant outcome: “It’s the biggest challenge that engineers face; it’s also the biggest challenge that society faces, but I believe engineers have a key role to deliver sustainability. We talk about how much energy is used taking a flight, but the question is that if we are to decarbonise, does that mean we fly less? I don’t believe that. I think engineers are going to come up with solutions in a sustainable way. There will be a development in sustainable fuels. The UAE is going to be a leader in hydrogen and how that is going to impact and support aviation in the future. Sustainability is what all aspects of engineering will be addressing in the next few years.”

Hopes and aspirations: Mansour Abdullah Khalfan Belhoul, UAE Ambassador to the UK, has said recently that Expo 2020 Dubai symbolises the hopes and aspirations of youth throughout the world and represents an inspiring platform for connecting minds and reinforcing international cooperation.

On the occasion of the launch of Expo 2020 Dubai on 1st October, 2021, Belhoul stressed that hosting the Expo with the return to normalcy highlights the UAE’s cooperation with international partners in drafting the goals of the future, with a focus on overall sustainability, health and safety.

The bilateral ties between the UAE and the UK are witnessing progress in all areas, most notably in investment, trade, health, energy, education, space, food security and technology, he added.

It has been noted that the design of the British Pavilion at the Expo was inspired by the “Breakthrough Message” project of the late Stephen Hawking and will invite visitors from around the world to think deeply about the important message of expressing ourselves as one planet, he added.

The pavilion, which is located in the Opportunities Area, under the slogan, “Innovation for a Shared Future,” aims to showcase the scope of the UK’s cooperation with other countries in creating solutions to global issues.

On the role of the event in encouraging collective action, Belhoul highlighted the fact the Expo will host 200 participants from 192 countries, as well as many multilateral organisations, companies and educational establishments. He noted that the post-COVID-19 era will impose a range of economic, development and cultural challenges that must be solved with international partners, noting some of these challenges are in line with the Expo’s pillars, which include opportunities, transport and sustainability. On the Expo’s international role in promoting the values of tolerance, coexistence and human fraternity, he affirmed that tolerance, coexistence and peace are values instilled in the Emirati community, which the country is keen to promote through interactions and collective work.

“As with the Emirates Mars Mission and the Hope Probe, Expo 2020 Dubai is the symbol of youths’ aspirations and their hopes for the future,” Belhoul said, stating its educational programme and the schools programme will witness a series of tours for school students from high schools and universities in the UAE and throughout the world.

Youth will be able to explore the best inspiring innovations in all areas, including sustainable agriculture, artificial intelligence and robotics, he added.

Speaking about climate change, which is a key pillar of Expo 2020 Dubai, he said climate change is a key challenge that requires a unified global response based on innovation, cooperation and inspiration, explaining that the UAE plays a pivotal role in this regard and has implemented many leading initiatives in the field of sustainability, such as hosting the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), organising Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, building the largest solar power plant in the world, and developing Masdar City.

The hosting of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Abu Dhabi in 2023 will be an ideal opportunity to encourage international collective action to address climate change, he said, adding that hosting Expo 2020 Dubai, coinciding with the country’s Golden Jubilee, is also an ideal opportunity to contemplate the country’s journey and leading achievements.

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