The Think Science Fair 2016 was officially inaugurated today by Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Managing Director of Emirates Foundation, who applauded the diverse talent pool of curious young scientists, innovators and tech- entrepreneurs participating in the fair.
The event is being held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chairman of Emirates Foundation, and in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Abu Dhabi Education Council.
Organised by the Emirates Foundation, an independent philanthropic organisation set up by the Abu Dhabi Government to facilitate public-private partnerships for empowering youth across the UAE, the fair extends throughout April 17-19, 2016 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Being the largest of its kind in the region, the event helps young people actively engage with the digital revolution by providing them with solid Science, technology and innovation (STI) skills, encouraging them to innovate and deploy technology that addresses some of today’s broader socio-economic challenges. Progressing year on year, the event continues to impact more school and university students; add new partners and grow.
Speaking at the fair, Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Managing Director of Emirates Foundation said: "Science, technology and innovation (STI) are fundamental prerequisites in driving the national competitiveness of our nation. Our mission today as we strive towards a knowledge and innovation based economy is to increase the number of Emiratis pursuing STI education and careers, through empowering them with the knowledge and skills in order to prepare them to enter the science and technology workforce. It is also important to expose them to science and encourage them to experience its application from an early age.
Sheikh Sultan underlined that while the UAE has made significant strides towards building this ecosystem, what is required now are further knowledge exchange platforms as well as commitments, investments and collaboration between the public and private sectors in order to allow for knowledge growth and transfer as well as the incubation and acceleration of new innovations and technologies.
The inauguration was attended by Obeid Al Ketbi and Dr. Frouke Heard-Bey, Board members of Emirates Foundation, Saeed Al Rumaithi, a member of the Federal National Council; Clare Woodcraft-Scott, CEO of Emirates Foundation, and Maytha Al Habsi, Deputy CEO of Emirates Foundation along with CEOs and science academics and professionals from across the region.
The Think Science Fair comprises a large-scale exhibition of youth projects from high schools and universities competing across 13 scientific sectors as well as experiential activities in Science, Engineering, Oil and Gas, Energy, Aviation and Technology hosted by leading companies and organizations in the science and technology sphere.
The annual Think Science Fair is a multi-faceted event. It features the Competition, a cornerstone that has introduced two new scientific categories this year - Vehicle Design and Aviation and Systems for Special Needs - and two new award categories - The Think Science Public Sector Award, Think Science Industry Award - ; Think Science Connect, an engagement initiative connecting young people with a strategic scientific network, as well as a number of interactive performances, workshops and educational sessions.
The fair also acts as a platform to connect youth with experts through motivational sessions that focus on key areas in education and innovation; facilitated Q and A sessions that allow participants to hear from scientists who have made a careers out of their passion; a wide range of innovative and interactive workshops such The Mars Show by Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, the "1001 Inventions Corner" to highlight the role ancient Islamic scientists have played in shaping modern day science, a live show of Extreme Science: Lights! Action. Fatima Al Kaabi, the youngest female Emirati inventor, and Adib Alblooshi, the youngest Emirati CEO will be hosted as well in the connect platform. There are also 43 companies, organizations and institutes at the fair to offer career advice and many scientific hands-on activities to those in attendance.
Clare Woodcraft-Scott, CEO of Emirates Foundation on the occasion said: "Our Think Science Program aims to provide youth with a platform to deploy new technologies and unlock their creativity in Science, technology and innovation (STI). With the digital revolution, we have a greater responsibility to support youth navigate the complexities of the 21st century and building a core talent pool of youth with expertise in Science, technology and innovation (STI) is a fundamental part of that."
Woodcraft elaborated by saying: "We are pleased to see a steady increase in the number of project submissions year on year which clearly demonstrates the growing appetite of youth towards scientific innovation. However, it does not stop here. It is our shared responsibility to channel these innovations, taking them to the next level, through investments and support for incubation, mentoring and providing youth with more entry career pathways in science and technology. It is a commitment we must make together, the public, private and the philanthropy sectors, for the future of our youth and for sustainable development."
More than 235 projects representing the work of more than 640 Emirati youth are featured at the Fair, which aims to encourage UAE youth from public and private schools and universities to participate in an innovative national level science competition. The participating projects have entered the competition under the guidance of 195 mentors and supervisors from educational institutions across the UAE.
The judging committee for the competition, made up of more than 60 scientific experts and professors from universities, government, and private corporate entities, will review and evaluate the projects to determine the winners, at a ceremony, which is due to take place on May 24th, 2016.
Maytha Al Habsi Deputy CEO at Emirates Foundation, said, "As the national foundation of the UAE, we are committed to supporting youth and accelerating their transition into Science, technology and innovation (STI). Our work with the private sector has clearly highlighted that while national efforts to bring young talent into STI roles in the business world are gaining traction, there is still a lack of supply given the country’s ambitious industrial development plans. From aviation to solar and renewable energy to downstream industries, the UAE has powerful potential to create regional economic opportunity and drive innovation through science."
"Through our Think Science program, we aim to inspire young scientific talent to consider science as both a study and a career option by showcasing the employment opportunities they could potentially gain. The program provides young scientists with skills and knowledge to meet the growing needs of industry while also nurturing their personal and professional development. Equally it helps private sector companies interested in STI talent showcase their employee value proposition and access a pool of relevant and high quality young Emiratis."
The Think Science Competition includes the schools competition that focuses on safety systems, smart systems, energy, Environmental Sciences and Management, Applied Physics, Applied Chemistry, Transportation Systems, Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, Systems for Special Needs, and Vehicles Designs and Aviation. The universities competition is centered on three main categories: Energy and Environmental Sciences, Applied Sciences and Engineering, and Smart Industrial Systems