Students to combine technical skills with real world experience

April 3, 2011

A US astronaut has highlighted the need for students about to join the labour market to balance strong technical and leadership skills with real-world learning experience.

“It’s important to reach students at an early age to open their eyes to the possibilities technical careers offer and emphasise the importance of strong maths and science skills in pursuing their dreams,” Bonnie J. Dunbar said.

“It’s equally important to connect with students who are close to entering the workforce to provide continued encouragement, share practical experiences and engage in dialogue about the importance of balancing strong technical and leadership skills with real-world learning experience,” she said.

Dunbar, a retired Nasa astronaut, is now an executive director of Wings Over Washington focused on bringing more youth into engineering. Her lecture was part of a series held by Boeing for students in Qatar pursuing studies in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Dunbar, who holds doctorates in mechanical and biomedical engineering, highlighted at Qatar Aeronautical College how her engineering education prepared her to fly on five space shuttle missions and for a successful career in the aerospace industry.

Ali Ebrahim Al Malki, director general of Qatar Aeronautical College, said students benefited from such interactions.

“Our students are just beginning their careers in aviation and are mastering the knowledge and skills of flight, engineering and related disciplines,” Al Malki said, quoted by Qatari daily Gulf Times on Sunday.

“Having a guest speaker like Dr Dunbar, who spent a combined 50 days in space, is an exciting reminder of why they are working so hard to become a part of this industry. Our female students, especially, found her message to be inspirational,” he said.

Boeing launched the guest lecture series in Qatar in January with Don Winter, vice president of Flight and Systems Technologies, Boeing Research and Technology, as the inaugural speaker. His lecture focused on globalisation trends in aerospace research and development.

According to Mike Delong, Boeing’s Doha office lead and regional vice president of business development for Boeing Defence, Space and Security: “Boeing recognises the importance of cultivating science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and developing interest in technical careers.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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