Four days, seven emirates, countless opportunities for learning

group shot of students in front of palm trees

 Students in the Global Leaders and Scholars in STEM (GLASS) honors program traveled to the Middle East

NYU Tandon’s Global Leaders and Scholars in STEM (GLASS) honors program is aimed at nurturing a new generation of visionary students with ambitious goals, wide-ranging perspectives, and the skills needed to change the world.

As part of that mission this year’s cohort of GLASS Scholars traveled to the Middle East, and their agenda, mapped out by the Global Education team at NYU Abu Dhabi, took them not only to Abu Dhabi (the capital of the United Arab Emirates) and Dubai, but to the lesser-known emirates of Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. By the end of their four days, they had seen all seven emirates that make up the UAE and become fully immersed in the cultures of each.

Joanna Ibrahim, a member of the Class of 2024 studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, says, “One of the GLASS program’s main objectives is to broaden our horizons and encourage us to become good global citizens, and this trip accomplished that. I was at a slight advantage because as a native of Egypt, I didn’t face the language barriers others did, but I was happy to be a source of help to my peers, and I finished the trip even more determined to pursue my goal of addressing the water shortage issues faced in the Middle East and North Africa.”

students pointing at cave in desertThe trip’s exhaustive itinerary encompassed the Buhais Geological Park in Sharjah, where students examined fossils from 93 million years ago and explored the origins of the limestone mountain ranges of Jebel Buhais; Al Dhaya Date Farm in Ras Al Khaimah, where they learned about the genome of the popular fruit; the Port of Fujairah, located 70 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, where they discussed the ramifications of fossil fuels and sustainability; the Suwaidi Pearl Farm, where they got a first-hand look at that thriving industry; the mind-expanding Museum of the Future; and the Dubai Future Labs, an applied research and development lab specializing in robotics and automation. 

students in lab in the middle eastIn addition to STEM-related activities, students found time to take a relaxing swim in the Indian Ocean, sample plenty of local foods, and get to know each other better. Saee Patwardhan, a member of the Class of 2024 who is majoring in Biomolecular Science, says, “It was such an incredible trip that it would be hard to choose a highlight. I did especially enjoy learning about pearl farming and getting to take a boat ride there, but I’m really grateful for the entire experience. I would never have had this opportunity without the GLASS program.”

Farzan Ahmad Khan, the visiting students program specialist and trip supervisor, was left with a feeling of gratitude. “It was a pleasure to work with the GLASS Scholars,” he says. “They truly were an exceptional group, and we look forward to hosting more cohorts in the future.”

a student takes a selfie with a camel