Sunday 4, October 2015

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Senior energy officials from the United States and the United Arab Emirates convened in Masdar Institute to encourage more women to be active in energy leadership and to discuss technological collaboration with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The UAE and US delegations were led by Her Excellency Fatima Al-Foora Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Electricity Clean Energy and Desalination of Water, UAE Ministry of Energy, and Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Deputy Secretary at the United States Department of Energy (DOE), respectively. Her Excellency Barbara A. Leaf, US Ambassador to the UAE, accompanied the delegation.

As senior women leaders in the sector, HE Al Shamsi and Dr. Sherwood-Randall shared their unique perspectives on renewable energy with Masdar Institute students and faculty and other invited guests during a lunchtime seminar. Both women are champions of the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Initiative, launched by the US Department of Energy to encourage more women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field. Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Vice-President, Institutional Advancement and Public Affairs at Masdar Institute, welcomed the speakers and guests, offering them an insight into the vital role women play in advancing the UAE’s research into new sustainable technologies that are addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues such as improved access to food, energy, and water.

Masdar Institute currently has a collaboration with the US National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) for a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project that is led by RTI International, an independent non-profit research institute. The project is jointly funded by US DOE and Masdar.

The event was convened as part of the UAE-established “Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy,” which was formally launched on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking from New York City, Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, Masdar’s Director of Sustainability, said, “We launched WiSER with the ambitious aim of empowering women to be catalysts of innovation to address climate change. One of the pillars of the initiative is to provide opportunities for young women to be inspired by the real-world experiences of women already active in driving solutions to the world’s toughest energy challenges. By speaking to our Masdar Institute students and other young female professionals, Dr. Sherwood-Randall and Her Excellency Al Shamsi have provided invaluable building blocks to support the next-generation of women energy leaders.”  

HE Al Shamsi, who serves as the UAE’s C3E International Ambassador, commented on the WiSER initiative saying, “This UAE-led initiative has a critical role to play in catalyzing more women to take leadership roles in the fields of sustainability and renewable energy. It was my pleasure to share the stage with my colleagues from the US Department of Energy and to have the opportunity to share my personal experiences with this group of extremely talented students and professionals from all over the world.”

Dr. Sherwood-Randall, a leading official in the Obama Administration, said of her visit, “Masdar Institute represents the forward-looking spirit of the UAE and is an important partner for us in developing and deploying advanced, renewable, and sustainable energy technologies. I am impressed by the innovative research these young women are doing to tackle energy and climate-related challenges. They are on the path toward becoming the energy leaders of the future.”

Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Masdar Institute’s Interim Provost, said, “Our engagements with global, regional and national entities include the US DOE and UAE Ministry of Energy. These alliances have helped us to create a thriving talent pool of local scientists and engineers, especially women. We are also proud to mention that women represent a sizeable portion of such talent at Masdar Institute. We seek to further expand these areas of collaborations with our stakeholder organizations. In line with the country’s mandate, Masdar Institute will continue with these robust partnerships for further empowering women.”

Following the event, the energy officials met with the senior leadership of Masdar Institute to discuss collaboration in research and advanced technologies for sustainable future energy.  The dignitaries were received by Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Dr. Steve Griffiths, Vice-President for Research and Interim Associate Provost, Dr. Mohammed Sassi, Interim Dean of Faculty, and Dr. Youssef Shatilla, Dean of Academic Programs.

The delegation later toured Masdar City, which houses a number of strategic cooperation initiatives between the US and the UAE entities, such as the GE Ecomagination Garages and the MIT-Masdar Institute Cooperative Program. The guests also visited some of the key sustainable features of Masdar City, such as the Wind Tower, the 10MW solar photovoltaic plant, and the personal rapid transport (PRT) system.