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American University of Sharjah To Boost Human Capacity of UAE Space Programme

Photograph courtesy of the American University of Sharjah.

The UAE’s American University of Sharjah (AUS) has created a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Physics with an emphasis on space sciences. This degree programme will include internships at the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, as well as a possible small satellite building initiative.

This is only the fourth physics degree to be offered from a UAE university, and it represents a significant enhancement to Emirati science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as to its capacity building for space sector growth.

The programme is designed to offer students direct access to the UAE’s burgeoning space programme, building interest and capabilities, and it also aims to help with the Emirates Mars Mission slated for 2020.

“This degree programme offers highly-specialised learning that has direct applications in real life. It’s very exciting and very interesting,” said Dr Mahmoud Anabtawi, dean of the college of arts and sciences. “I’m very confident we will soon be seeing an even greater presence of AUS at the space centre.”

In addition to their curriculum, which will include astronomy and astrophysics, students could potentially work on developing satellites. AUS has already participated in the development of Nayif-1, the UAE’s first nanosatellite.

An initial cohort estimated at 15 students is expected to begin the programme in Autumn 2018. The university expects international students as well as Emirati students.

“It’s very important for us to have UAE Nationals,” said Dr Anabtawi, who has been at AUS since 2002. “I think we will have Emiratis in that first intake. Already there are some interested. As one of the main universities in the UAE, we want to contribute to the growth of the knowledge-based economy and be at the forefront of scientific endeavour here.”

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