Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company "Masdar" and Solar Impulse have just completed a week of educational engagement with secondary school students from across the UAE, university engineering students, and industry professionals.
Over 1500 students gathered under the wings of Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered plane able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel. Masdar the host partner of Solar Impulse, also welcomed Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, Director General of Abu Dhabi's Education Council, to Solar Impulse 2's home in Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen Executive Airport.
A key highlight of the week was the inspirational ‘Master Class in Fuel-Free Flight' conducted by pilot Andre` Borschberg. The event was attended by 300 university students and industry professionals on Monday evening Dr. Nawal Al- Hosany, Masdar's Director of Sustainability, opened the ‘Master Class' with an inspirational welcome address, emphasising the importance of technological pursuits, ingenuity, and innovation to bring about a more sustainable future.
"Every one of you here has the opportunity to make a difference by helping us collectively meet the goals we need to create a more sustainable future. Whether you are a promising engineering student eager to challenge conventional methods or an industry professional at the forefront of helping to develop solutions to society's challenges, you have the power, knowledge, skills, and opportunity to make a true difference," stated Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany. "You share Masdar, Solar Impulse, and Abu Dhabi's collective commitment to advance clean innovation and renewable technology. As proud partners of this historic attempt, we, Masdar and Abu Dhabi, invite you to join us, innovate, prove the impossible can be possible, and that innovation knows no boundaries." The ‘Master Class in Fuel-Free Flight' hosted by Masdar, featured Andre` Borschberg, the technical visionary behind Solar Impulse. Borschberg discussed in-depth the innovative clean technology that enables the Si2 aircraft to fly without fossil fuels and polluting emissions. Borschberg detailed how the plane is an airborne laboratory that is making way for innovative technological solutions capable of meeting the world's most pressing challenges head on. Borschberg also discussed the mental and physical challenges that both he and his co- founder and co-pilot Bertrand Piccard, chairman of Solar Impulse, will endure while attempting to circumnavigate the globe in the single-seater cockpit.
Students from Masdar Institute, The Petroleum Institute, Zayed University, Higher Colleges of Technology, Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi University, Amity University, UAE University, and Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, fascinated by Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), the feat of sustainable engineering, challenged Borschberg with inquisitive questions and continued the discourse with the pilot and Solar Impulse engineers beneath the solar wings. The master class was also attended by industry professionals from Etihad Airways and Lockheed Martin.
Under the guidance of Borschberg and the dedicated Solar Impulse team, attendees explored the plane and viewed the remarkable wings comprised of 17,248 solar cells that supply four electric motors with a lithium-ion battery storage system that enables energy-efficient flight day and night.
"Solar Impulse 2 is not the first solar airplane, however it is the first able to cross oceans and continents - remaining in the skies for several days and nights in a row without landing. The aircraft collects energy from the sun while flying throughout the day and stores the energy to enable us to fly throughout the night," said Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO. "While the plane is sustainable, we must also ensure the sustainability of the pilot in order to complete the route; Solar Impulse 2 must accomplish what no other plane in the history of aviation has achieved - flying without fuel for 5 consecutive days and nights with only one pilot in the unpressurised cockpit." Solar Impulse is hosted by Abu Dhabi and Masdar for preparations, community engagement, and test flights ahead of its 5-month attempt to circumnavigate the globe without a drop of fuel. Si2 will take-off from Abu Dhabi in early March and return to the emirate by late July or early August 2015.