Andre Borschberg, the Swiss co-founder, CEO, and pilot of Solar Impulse, along with Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability at Masdar, welcomed Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), and students from across the UAE to the Solar Impulse hangar at the Al Bateen Executive Airport.
During the initiative, which took place on Monday, more than 500 students experienced an inspirational presentation and gathered beneath the wings of Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered plane able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel.
ADEC's Director General stressed on the importance of engaging students in activities related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in order to enhance their skills in those subjects, which are very much required for a competitive future workforce.
"The UAE is expected to grow in different areas and fields, and our students will be required to compete on a national and global level. Gaining hands-on-experience and learning more about initiatives related to STEM are vital for our youth, since it helps them develop passion, knowledge and interest towards the subject matter. This initiative not only encourages students to learn more about sustainability, but inspires them to further respect the environment as well as the power of Science which is developing rapidly," said Dr. Al Qubaisi.
The visits brought together secondary school students from across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain as well as Solar Impulse's young and vibrant ground crew team, and science teachers from around the Emirates.
For pilots Piccard and Borschberg, an overarching goal of their round-the-world zero-fuel flight – set to begin in March 2015 –is to educate youth with a concrete and exciting example of what science can achieve in a globalised society. The project, in conjunction with existing sustainability initiatives in local schools, has helped raise students' aspirations while providing a real-life motivational example of science pushing boundaries.
"Solar Impulse 2 is an incredible achievement in the students' eyes," said Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability, Masdar. "Masdar and Solar Impulse share a commitment to inspiring youth, promoting the values of sustainable living to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency by future leaders. We hope that the daring attempt will further our mission to cultivate an ethos of sustainability in the next generation, alerting them to their responsibility to care for the environment by taking simple, individual actions." "We were honoured by ADEC Director General Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi's participation in this event. We have a strong partnership with ADEC and we are always keen on involving youth in our initiatives”, added Dr. Nawal.
Under the guidance of pilot Andre` Borschberg and the Solar Impulse crew, students explored the plane and the remarkable photovoltaic power and storage source that helps it achieve energy-efficient flight.
Solar Impulse is hosted by Masdar and Abu Dhabi for preparations, community engagement, and test flights ahead of its five -month attempt to circumnavigate the globe without a drop of fuel. Si2 will take-off from Abu Dhabi in early March and return by late July or early August 2015.