• Texas A&M at Qatar becomes the first tertiary education school in Qatar to include the Shams Generation program into coursework
• 30 TAMQ students exhibit fully functional solar products
After inspiring primary and secondary school students across Qatar with its innovative solar energy educational programme, Shams Generation has broadened its outreach to include institutes of higher learning.
An initiative of Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), Shams Generation recently celebrated the first successful completion of its Level 3 program as undergraduate students of Texas A&M at Qatar (TAMUQ) showcased their MVPs (minimally viable products) all centered around the efficient use of solar energy. The Level 3 program ran through the complete spring semester and was incorporated into the teaching curriculum as part of a graded course by TAMUQ. This marks another achievement for the growing influence of Shams Generation in the field of education.
Shams Generation’s educational programs are purposefully designed to be tiered for primary (Level 1), secondary (Level 2), and tertiary students (Level 3).
“By engaging with TAMUQ, we have managed to expand the outreach of Shams Generation to include universities and aid in developing the solar energy applications knowledge of these future engineers. By working together, Shams Generation and TAMUQ have demonstrated that providing a real-world experience can truly enrich the knowledge of students beyond the classroom environment; one that equips them for the challenges and accomplishments of life,” said Chairman and CEO of QSTec, Dr Khalid K. Al Hajri. “The work the students have produced is absolutely amazing and highlights the value our Shams Generation initiative is adding to solar education in Qatar.”
The class of juniors were invited to design fully functional solar MVPs on the hypothesis they could be turned into commercially viable products if a startup funding was available. A total of 30 students were divided into seven teams for the duration of the project and had been provided with a Shams Generation advanced solar kit to test their innovative ideas on.
For TAMUQ, the collaboration allowed the university to offer students a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) environment from the typical STEM education engineering students are designed to encounter.
"Engineers tend to be myopically focused on technology,” said Dr. Robert S. Balog, associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program who recently joined the Qatar faculty on a joint appointment from the main campus in the U.S. “This is because they are trained to think about equations and technical problem solving. Through this partnership with QSTec, I was able to provide a real-world challenge for the students in my course on renewable energy, namely how to raise awareness of solar energy in way that is accessible to the general, non-technical, public. The skills learned in this project will help the students become better at articulating value proposition to a multitude of stakeholders as they transition from student into professional,” said Balog, who is an expert in power electronics, solar energy, and was an entrepreneur in a solar micro-inverter startup company before joining Texas A&M University.
TAMUQ vice dean Dr. Eyad Masad said: "At Texas A&M University at Qatar, our graduates are well-rounded engineering leaders who possess the adaptive, critical-thinking skills to tackle relevant, real-life challenges in Qatar and around the world. Part of the educational experience we provide is getting our students involved in arts and humanities, which enhance engineering education by fostering creativity and innovation, critical thinking and visual and verbal communications skills, among others. With solar energy holding so much potential in Qatar and the region, we hope that this interactive, playful works of art can help to encourage the public dialogue about solar energy. We are proud to partner with QSTec on this unique project to the benefit of our students and for the State of Qatar."
The Shams Generation program is the largest ever national-level educational program of its kind in Qatar and aims to forge a blueprint for progress on sustainability of solar energy as a resource, using the interdisciplinary approach of STEAM.