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The City Of The Future Is Now Being Built–By Kids

Wearing a white lab coat, Ahmad is explaining how hard it is to steer a drone. His colleague, Reem, agrees. “As controller of the drone, you first need to learn how to fly it, and to think before taking any step.”

The two are as passionate as any great scientists, but with one big difference: Ahmad and Reem haven’t even finished high school. And that’s exactly why the program for budding whiz kids known as Tech Quest is bent on attracting them to science, technology, engineering and mathematics—aka “STEM”.

“Given the rapid pace of the UAE’s knowledge-based economy, engaging students at an early age to spark their interest in STEM-related subjects is essential,” says Hanan Harhara, head of Human Capital at the Advanced Technology Investment Company, which administers Tech Quest as one of its development initiatives.

The program is open to Emirati students from grades 4 – 12, and the young participants radiate enthusiasm for the high-level activities, which include designing creative manufacturing structures, developing video games, and materializing designs using a 3D printer.

At the upcoming edition, held in Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain from March 30 to April 10, over 120 of their peers in grades 4 – 8 will begin planning and building the city of the future, strategizing everything from healthcare to aviation, programing semi-conductor chips and unmanned drones, and building robots to be used in surgical operations.

Meanwhile, many of the program’s 800 alumni are already entering the wider tech world: 12 percent have gone on to join ATIC’s Al-Nokhba Scholarship Program.

For more info – Tech Quest website

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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