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WGS 2018: Space Settlement Forum Highlights Importance of STEM Education for Eliciting Interest in Space Exploration

16 November 2018


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Eliciting interest in space and its exploration among students through STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - education is imperative in modern times, concluded the participants of the session titled ‘Inspiring Students and the World: Mars and STEM education’, held as part of the Space Settlement Forum in the run-up to the sixth World Government Summit, WGS 2018, in Dubai.

The discussion was moderated by Michael McGrath, former Engineering Director at the Laboratory for Atmospherics and Space Physics, LASP, at the University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

Amal Amin, Senior Payload Engineer at the Space Science Department at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, said, "With the support of the UAE government, MBRSC has developed ambitious outreach and capacity development programs for school and university students with the aim of encouraging them to explore the opportunities in the field of space science."

She added, "The number of students keen on participating in MBRSC programs exceeds our expectations, which requires us to expand and develop our current infrastructure."

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, Co-chair of the Interplanetary Initiative and Principal Investigator of the Psyche mission, NASA’s 14thDiscovery Program, emphasised the pressing need for nurturing the culture of asking critical questions and finding solutions among the students.

Artemis Westenberg, co-founder and President of Explore Mars, a nonprofit that wants to see humans walk on Mars within the next two decades, highlighted the barriers in STEM education faced by different categories of students, such as discrimination due to gender, colour, ethnicity and disabilities.

Cady Coleman, former United States Air Force Officer and veteran of two space shuttle missions, inspired the audience by sharing her exciting story of space exploration. She said: "We need to encourage women to step into this area. In my first Mars mission, I was the only female, but I could overcome challenges with the great support of my family. I strongly believe that Mars is for women in the future."

Under the patronage of the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the World Government Summit 2018 runs from 11th to 13th February at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event convenes more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 16 international organisations.

Hosting more than 130 speakers across 120 interactive sessions, WGS 2018 features five distinct forums that examine the challenges of vital sectors for the future with a view to finding the best resolutions for the greater global good. Over 20 specialised global reports spanning key sectors and topics of the summit will be launched throughout the duration of the event.