NAT 200623 Emirati Interns - DSEI-1592897925652
Emirati interns Ashwaq Saleh and Maryam Al Nuaimi Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Two Emirati women, Ashwaq Saleh and Maryam Al Nuaimi, are set to help boost the UAE’s Space Sector, after returning from their internship at BAE Systems, the British multinational defence, security and aerospace company.

“The two women spent six months from September 2019 to March 2020 at BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence (AI) Labs facility in Chelmsford, Essex – the city where radio was first invented – and have returned to the UAE and are ready to embark upon careers in the burgeoning space sector,” a statement from Mubadala Investment Company said.

“Ashwaq and Maryam’s return to the UAE coincides with International Women’s Engineering Day, which this year focuses on ways in which women engineers have helped to shape the world and make the planet a better, safer, more innovative and an exciting place to be,” the company added.

During the inaugural space internship programme, Ashwaq and Maryam worked alongside AI Labs’ senior space engineers, conducting cutting-edge research and supporting the development of world-leading technology.

Saleh’s main project focused on the design of a Switch Matrix Unit for the Tracking, Telemetry and Command Processor (TTCP).

The TTCP is a flexible high precision system for near-earth and deep space communication. It is the highest performance processor in the space industry and has been used to support European Space Agency missions such as Gaia, Solar Orbiter and Exomars.

Saleh commented: “I was fortunate to work closely with senior engineers and mentors at AI Labs, from whom I learnt a great deal. I also had my own case study work to complete, meaning I was 100 per cent accountable and showed me the real importance of professional responsibility.”

Al Nuaimi’s project, meanwhile, focused on writing a data splitter programme and required learning about an entirely new operating system. She also worked on running BAE Systems’ special RLAS (Radio Link Analysis System) tools that were designed for post-processing of TTCP data.

Using data from the European Rosetta space mission, Maryam worked to identify discrepancies in the results generated by different tools to ensure correct processing of data.

Al Nuaimi said: “It was incredible to work so closely with BAE Systems’ experts and to have access to the European Space Agency Rosetta mission, for which BAE Systems provided the inter-planetary communication system.

“The internship was an amazing launchpad for me to start my career in the space industry and I’m excited to see just how far I can go now. Certainly, I will be following the UAE’s Mission to Mars programme and hope that I will be able to be part of it,” she added.

To mark the completion of the internship programme a special presentation was held at the Applied Intelligence office in central London, attended by BAE Systems representatives from Group Business Development and Electronic Systems, as well as a delegation from the UAE Embassy in the UK including the Cultural Attaché, Mr Abdulla Alkaabi.

Fatima Al Marzouqi, head of Emiratisation at Mubadala, said: “Mubadala is delighted to have partnered with BAE Systems and provide this unique opportunity for Ashwaq and Maryam to learn about the space industry. Their transformation during the internship has been incredible to see and the depth of work they have completed has been extremely impressive.”

Andy Crisp, BAE Systems’ UAE Country Director, added: “There is a great sense of anticipation at the moment in the UAE space sector – with the first Arab space Mission to Mars only weeks away – so Ashwaq and Maryam’s return from BAE Systems couldn’t have been timed better.”