Qatari high school students invent solutions during workshop to encourage innovation

Qatar students 1More than 20 Qatari high school students unleashed their inner inventors and entrepreneurs recently as part of Qatar Invents, a week-long academic enrichment workshop organized at Texas A&M University at Qatar and sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar.

Shelly Tornquist, director of PK-12 Engineering Education Outreach at Texas A&M University, helped organize the event, along with Rodney Boehm, director of Aggies Invent and associate professor of practice. Qatar Invents, based on Aggies Invent, is an intensive engineering invention and design experience that engages high school students in hands-on projects that push their innovation, creativity and communication skills. A group of 22 students participated in the event, where they were charged with developing novel solutions to energy and health care challenges, then built prototypes to demonstrate their inventions.

Qatar students 2“We led them through an engineering design process that taught teamwork, communications and interview skills, and engaged them in three different design challenges that had their focus in Qatar Grand Challenges,” said Tornquist, who added that the students worked even harder because they were working on projects that were important to their country. The projects included cleaning dust off solar panels, projects to aid the elderly and redesigning wind turbines. “Students were very engaged and enthusiastic about the program and all continued to participate throughout the week – even though it was during one of their vacation periods.”

Qatar students 3At the end of the week, final presentations were given to a panel of judges that represented Maersk Oil Qatar and Texas A&M at Qatar faculty and current students, who were impressed with the students’ knowledge and what they accomplished during the week. An awards ceremony followed where students were presented individual and team awards in front of their parents. Overall the event was considered a great success.

“It’s good that they’re having these programs while these students are still young so they can decide what fields they want to go into when they graduate. It gives them clarity on what they want to do,” said Mohammed Sultan Al-Muhannadi, father of Qatar Invents participant Sultan Muhannadi. “They will help the country in achieving the 2030 National Vision goals that Qatar has set forth that will help move forward the wheels of industry and business going into the future.”

“We received very positive feedback about the program,” Tornquist said, adding that their hope is to have a similar event in Texas in the fall. “Rodney and I learned a great deal about extending Aggies Invent to encourage STEM interest in high school students and we want to bring it to Texas.”

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