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Satnews Daily
May 26th, 2015

Significant STEM MoU Set Up By Orbital ATK, Yahsat + Masdar Institute

[SatNews] Yahsat, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and Orbital ATK, have all signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to announce the joint creation of the Gulf-region’s first Master’s level advanced studies space program, endorsed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The MoU was signed by (from left to right) Dr. Ahmed Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO of Yahsat and Tom Wilson, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, on behalf of David W. Thompson, President and CEO of Orbital ATK.

The MoU was signed in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The signing was also attended by key government officials and Chairmen of Yahsat, The UAE Space Agency and Masdar Institute.

The development of this program goes along with the establishment of the UAE Space Agency last year and the nation’s goal of entering the space industry through the launch of the ‘Hope Probe’ in 2021. The initiative also forms a part of the UAE’s efforts to encourage innovation across the nation, following the pronouncement of 2015 as its ‘Year of Innovation’.

Aimed at facilitating the growth of UAE National students into diversified, high-technology areas of study, the program aims to welcome its first group of graduate students at Masdar Institute in January 2016, and provide a rigorous academic grounding in a multitude of space-related scientific and engineering disciplines. The partnership will result in a Master’s degree program in Engineering, with a concentration in Space Systems and Technology, after the program receives all the necessary approvals from the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
The degree program offers a unique opportunity to UAE graduate students for contributing to high-tech research into space technology, and will include the student-led design, integration, construction, testing and operation of a mini-satellite, known in the industry as a CubeSat, which will be launched into space and monitored from the ground station. Yahsat’s partnership with Orbital ATK has aided the development of this unique, comprehensive academic program by adding a robust technical dimension.
Commenting on this strategic partnership, Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO of Yahsat, said, “This will lead to extraordinary achievements for the UAE and is an important step toward realizing our national vision of becoming an innovation and technology capital for the region. Our partnership with Orbital ATK and Masdar Institute will provide these students with practical, hands-on experience bridging what they learn in the classroom and enabling them to apply these skills towards building and launching the mini-satellite.”
Orbital ATK’s President and CEO David W. Thompson said, “Not only will our subject matter experts help refine and structure the program’s curriculum, we will also provide for the use of our testing facility to help students verify the design of their CubeSat before launch.”
Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer, Masdar, signing on behalf of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, said, “As the UAE continues to increase its focus on its aerospace, defense and satellite industries, the requirement for local expertise, especially highly-trained UAE nationals, will also increase. The launch of the Gulf’s first Master’s program concentration in space systems and technology at Masdar Institute, in collaboration with Yahsat and Orbital ATK, will help create the necessary environment to develop this talent base.”
Dr. Eng, Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General, UAE Space Agency, said, “This collaboration involving two of the UAE’s most innovative and forward thinking organizations is a giant leap forward for our country’s space program. By promoting the advanced study of space technology, Yahsat, Masdar and Orbital ATK are playing a vital role in developing the skills necessary for the UAE to become a leader in one of the most important industries of the future. I look forward to seeing the results of the new students’ endeavors.”
Yahsat is committed to developing talent and expertise in the field of science and technology, building a sustainable talent pool of the next generation of space engineers.