The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) recently took great pleasure in welcoming the first contingent of students from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to NASA’s Education Associates Program (EAP). Managed by USRA, the EAP is a unique workforce development program that offers students, post-docs, and faculty the opportunity for hands-on work with NASA scientists and engineers. Under a 3-year agreement between NASA and the non-profit Arab Youth Venture Foundation (AYVF), up to 12 UAE students per year will be participating in the EAP. The initial group of three students (Shamma Al Qassim, Hazza Bani Malek, and Hamad Rajab) arrived in mid-June to begin a 10-week internship at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The students will be working on a variety of projects including the space shuttle and International Space Station, deep space missions, solar system exploration, and aeronautics research.

Al Qassim, a computer engineering major at the American University of Sharjah, will work with a team analyzing thermal infrared (TIR) data retrieved from NASA satellite sensor Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to determine if it can be used to predict earthquakes. Bani Malek, a major in mechatronics at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Ras Al Khaimah, will work with a group updating facility automation in the Electric Arc Shock Tube facility, which simulates the high enthalpy (heat) environment encountered by spacecraft entering planetary atmospheres. Rajab, an electrical engineering student, will intern with a team working to re-purpose a cutting-edge water recycling system, designed for long-term duration space missions, for the new Ames ‘Green Building’ Sustainability Base.

NASA Ames Director S. Pete Worden stated that, “The goodwill generated by students working side by side with our NASA scientists and researchers will serve as a bridge between the USA and UAE, opening the doors for future collaboration in scientific research. I can only imagine what discoveries might be achieved through such cooperation.”

USRA’s EAP Project Administrator, Ms. Coral Clark, echoed Worden’s sentiments, stating that, “Our NASA educational opportunities enable and empower young minds throughout the world to reach their full potential, a key to an innovative and prosperous future. Goodwill spreads virally, and this life-changing experience for our UAE student participants will have significant, positive impact on future collaborations in our world scientific community.”

About USRA – Established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, USRA is a private, nonprofit consortium of 105 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA’s mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy across the breadth of space science, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.

About EAP – The NASA Education Associates Program (EAP) is a unique workforce development program providing hands-on experience for students, post-docs, and faculty in STEM disciplines working with NASA scientists and engineers. EAP provides a flexible workforce solution for Sponsors and enables participants to gain practical experience in their chosen field or career pathway.

Source: Universities Space Research Association

CONTACT: Mary Laurents of Universities Space Research Association, +1-410-730-2656,