Payload Design Challenge Finalists recognized at Dubai Airshow

The UAE’s best and brightest young minds working with aerospace technology were celebrated at the Dubai Airshow today, during a mentoring and networking event hosted by Lockheed Martin and Mubadala Investment Company.

The two organizations have joined hands for the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Payload Design Challenge, a program that invites UAE-based university students to develop civilian applications that have the potential to solve real-world problems.

To date, six university teams have been selected as finalists. Over the course of the next four months, these students will be mentored by Lockheed Martin subject experts across different fields to convert their ideas into viable commercial applications.

Robert S. Harward, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin, UAE, said: “The UAS Payload Design Challenge aims to unleash the creativity of students across the UAE to solve real world challenges. Their insights are helping to formulate sustainable solutions in the aerospace industry, and we firmly believe that the finalists of this program embody the best and brightest young minds. We see a bright future for the UAE in these innovators of the future and are committed to nurturing their ideas throughout this program.”

The finalists are currently in the process of implementing their ideas in Lockheed Martin’s Indago, an unmanned vehicle that is renowned for its durability and adaptability for different industries. So far, the finalists have proposed applications for climate change monitoring and response, utilities, search and rescue, oil and gas and forestry.

Khaled Abdulla Al Qubaisi, Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace, Renewables and ICT, Mubadala, said “The UAE Payload Design Challenge encourages interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through a hands-on, interactive educational experience that promotes collaboration between students and professionals. Development of these STEM skills is vital to the continued growth of the new industry clusters Mubadala has created in the UAE, which are, in turn, creating career opportunities that did not exist previously. We congratulate the finalists of this unique initiative, and hope that this program equips them with skills that they can use well into the future.”

The finalists of the Payload Challenge were chosen from a field of 63 applications after a rigorous round of evaluations from an industry panel. The student teams are currently being hosted at Lockheed Martin’s Center of Innovation and Security Solutions at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, as they develop and test iterations of their applications. The program will conclude in early 2018 with live field demonstrations of the projects, with the students having the option to maintain the intellectual property of their applications.