Some 28 Qatari students from schools across the country navigated their drones through an obstacle course to show off the aspects of engineering and science they learned last week at the Engineering Heroes Drone Camp in Education City.

HE the Minister of Energy and Industry Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada attended the final day of Engineering Heroes to watch the students navigate through the obstacle course competition.

Engineering Heroes is an academic outreach initiative that teaches the principles of aviation, programming and power electronics as students are immersed in drone technology and its diverse applications.

Maersk Oil Qatar is the exclusive sponsor and industry partner for Engineering Heroes, which was organised by Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq).

Throughout the week, faculty, staff and researchers from Tamuq and Hamad Bin Khalifa University led students through exercises and design challenges to prepare them for the final challenge, the drone obstacle course competition, in which the students applied what they learned to simulated real-world problems that drones can solve.

An added challenge for the students was learning to programme and navigate in three dimensions - not just forward and backward, and right and left, but also up and down - using cameras mounted on the drones.

The seven teams, each containing four or five students, were coached by officers from the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Centre of the Qatar Armed Forces.

The student teams were required to fly their drones through an obstacle course that included a model of the Zubarah Fort and a Maersk Oil Qatar platform in the Arabian Gulf — and to land their drones safely after particular tasks were completed.

The winning teams were chosen according to their performance in the obstacle course and their application of programming skills developed over the course of the week.

Dr Hassan S Bazzi, assistant dean for research and executive director of development, engagement and outreach at Tamuq, said the programme demonstrated the diverse applications for engineering and science in Qatar’s pursuit of a knowledge-based economy.

Engineering Heroes is one of the many STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programmes put together by Tamuq and Maersk Oil Qatar through their Dhia: Engineering Leaders partnership, which delivers strategic educational outreach programmes to motivate young Qataris to choose educational pathways for careers in fields related to STEM, according to a statement.

Lewis Affleck, managing director of Maersk Oil Qatar, said: “It’s been a privilege to host some of Qatar’s brightest eighth and ninth grade students at the Engineering Heroes Drones competition.

"Initiatives like this play a big role in inspiring the younger generation of students to explore STEM disciplines and develop the necessary skills to become Qatar’s future technical workforce.”

As part of the Engineering Heroes Drone Camp, students also had the opportunity to preview drone technology recently adopted by Qatar’s military forces during an exclusive presentation earlier in the week by officers from the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Centre.

General Khalid Ahmad al-Kuwari encouraged the students to study hard to attain the knowledge needed to support technology for Qatar’s national defence, saying that engineering is a calling for Qatar.

Jowaher al-Marri, outreach and development manager at Tamuq, said encouraging Qatar’s best and brightest young minds to study STEM disciplines was critical to building the human capacity required to drive the country towards the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.

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