Tuesday 12, January 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald : The Board of Trustees of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today reviewed the progress of the institution and approved its future growth strategy during their annual meeting.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Masdar Institute.

The members of the Board of Trustees include His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, HE Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, HE Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), HE Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Under Secretary of the Defense Ministry and Vice-Chairman of Mubadala Development Company, HE Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority (EAA), and Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer of Mubadala Development Company, His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and Acting Director General at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), HE Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, Director General of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), HE Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market, Honorable Dr. Adnan Badran, President of Petra University, Dr. Martin Schmidt, Provost of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, James Mason Crafts Professor, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems, and Director of the Technology and Development Program, MIT.

HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said, “The UAE’s focus on innovative sectors ensures the country is able to compete and lead among world-ranking economies. In support of this, research-based academic institutions such as Masdar Institute play a critical role in developing intellectual and human capital that power such economic aims. Through gatherings like the Board of Trustees meeting, Masdar Institute is able to ensure that it is aligned with the strategic and evolving needs of the UAE. We are confident that with the continuing guidance of the UAE leadership, Masdar Institute will continue to play a critical role in producing the key inputs for the UAE’s future sustainable knowledge economy.”

Later, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and some of the Board of Trustees members visited the Masdar Institute Center for Water and Environment’s (iWater) cutting-edge laboratory facilities. They interacted with the students and learned about the various ongoing water-related research projects in areas such as desalination, wastewater treatment, water re-use and recycling, and advanced materials for water applications. iWater focuses its research on clean water production and management, climate change and the environment, as well as water resource challenges faced by the UAE and the region.

Recognizing the important challenges facing the UAE in the realms of water and energy, the Institute has revealed an increased strategic focus on advanced research into technologies that address these challenges.  Additionally, it’s faculty and students will reinforce their commitment to areas of research that are complementary to addressing these challenges, including smart systems and advanced materials science.

Commenting on that progress Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said, “We are pleased to see the progress Masdar Institute is making in its mission to develop the human and intellectual capital required to support the UAE’s knowledge economy transformation. The Institute’s research activities are generating innovative energy, water and climate solutions that will help ensure sustainable development, both for the UAE and the world.  This progress is a testament to the UAE leadership’s foresight and commitment cultivating the UAE’s innovation ecosystem focused on advanced sustainable technologies.”

In the academic arena, Masdar Institute witnessed the commencement of 106 new graduates, including 22 UAE nationals and 84 international students in June 2015, adding to its contributions to human capital development in the country. The university began its latest academic year with total student enrollment of 446, with 253 international and 193 UAE national students. Female students currently number 200, which is 45% of the total student body.

At present, out of a total of 155 PhD students, 37 are UAE nationals, who seek doctorate degrees in advanced technology areas.

Also, starting from September 2015, a Space Systems and Technology concentration is being offered in seven out of the nine Master’s programs currently available, aligning Masdar Institute more with the country’s objectives towards achieving its space mission. A total of 14 Master’s students are enrolled in the space concentration as of fall 2015.  Earlier, Masdar Institute received approval for its ninth Master’s program from the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The Sustainable Critical Infrastructure Program, launched in Fall 2014, offers learning in integrated sustainable infrastructure planning and development, with an initial focus on urban operations planning and transportation systems.

Dr Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost, Masdar Institute, said, “Building on our performance every year since inception, our strategic objectives are in line with the directives of the leadership towards advanced energy and sustainable technology targets. Our strategic focus on water, energy, and advanced materials will continue to receive increased attention. We have consistently expanded research activities, widened the scope of academic programs, developed human capital, raised our profile locally through outreach programs, and regionally and globally through industry and institutional collaborations. With the support of the UAE leadership and our Board of Trustees and Masdar Institute will continue to set new benchmarks in our focus areas.”

Earlier, the US News & World Report ranked Masdar Institute top in the ‘research impact’ category for the  inaugural ‘Best Arab Region Universities’ listing of 91 institutions across 16 countries in. Masdar Institute was also ranked second in the ‘percentage of total publications in top 10 percent’ category, third in the ‘percentage of total publications in top 25 percent’ category and ranked 6th in the ‘energy’ subject area.

Over the past five years, Masdar Institute has developed a culture of research excellence, innovation, and collaboration, with an emphasis on advancing high-impact research in the fields of clean energy and sustainable advanced technology and with relevance to the UAE’s economic priorities.

At present, Masdar Institute has six issued US patents, with 65 active pending patent applications and 116 invention disclosures outstanding. To date, the faculty and students have published over 900 articles in peer-reviewed journals, in addition to over 500 conference proceedings.

Masdar Institute achieved several distinctions over the year. Dr. Faisal Al Marzooqi, Masdar Institute’s first PhD graduate and now a member of the Institute’s faculty, was presented with the UAE Pioneer award to mark the occasion of the 44th UAE National Day. His award-winning research combined water desalination innovation and advancements in nanotechnology to produce a device envisioned to desalinate water in a more sustainable and energy efficient way.

Regional organizations are now relying heavily on the Institute’s regional environmental observatory (http://earth.masdar.ac.ae/), which is offering comprehensive information for monitoring coastal environments in the UAE and the region. The observatory was launched by Masdar Institute’s Environmental Remote Sensing and Modeling Laboratory during the year.

A string of launches and new initiatives marked the UAE Innovation Week 2015. These included a collaboration agreement to develop a fog prediction and monitoring system with the national airline Etihad Airways, a new partnership to monitor air quality with the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) and the launch of the Masdar Institute Solar Platform to test and develop concentrating solar power and thermal energy storage technologies.

Other launches during the Innovation Week included the Triple Helix Initiative – a collaboration with Emirates Steel, and Ministry of Energy to convert the Electric Arc Furnace dust into suitable materials for construction and buildings in an economically viable manner, and the 543 KWp photovoltaic (PV) solar power project at Ras Al Khaima’s Rashid Abdullah Omran Hospital that was conceptualized, initiated, tested and delivered by members of the Masdar Institute’s Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program, in collaboration with Masdar Special Projects and the UAE Ministry of Public Works. Also, a Masdar Institute PhD student was awarded the L’Oreal-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) For Women in Science (FWIS) Middle East Fellowship.

Dr Behjat Al Yousuf concluded, “The Institute has witnessed significant progress in the last couple of years with a rapid increase in the creation of intellectual property and research outcomes. I expect our increasing patents, graduates, research funding and research achievements will continue to pick up momentum going forward, and we plan on playing a key role in providing real-world solutions to the sustainability needs of the UAE and the wider world,” she added.