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A team of students from Universal American School in Dubai (UAS) won the Nuclear Science for Development student competition for environmental protection. This competition was launched and organized by the the UAE Mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with the mission to include young students in peaceful applications of nuclear technology. This competition was the first of its kind in UAE and the Middle East done in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Education, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).


Grade 12 students Syabil Azri Arian, Mahdi Abdul-Jalil, Sahil Shah, and Louis Manghardt, with the guidance of their physics teacher Mr. Christian Momah, participated in this competition under the category: Nuclear Science and Technology to Protect the Environment and Water Resources. The two other competition categories included nuclear science and technology application to improve human health, and to generate clean energy. The competition winners advanced to the semi-final stage, out of over 100 applicants within UAE, and were invited to visit the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi. The finals held were held at Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi on October 31, 2018. Winners of each of the three categories earned an all expense paid trip to attend the first ever Ministerial Conference at the IAEA in Vienna.


Syabil, Mahdi, Sahil, and Louis made the UAS school community proud, and can serve as an inspiration to students all over the U.A.E. and the region.



During their visit, the students had the opportunity to visit a number of sites  including the IAEA laboratories and facilities in Seibersdorf. They learned about nuclear science applications in other countries, and listened to Ministers of States from around the globe, renowned scientists, and policy-makers.


According to one of our participating students, Sahil Shah, "Participating and winning the nuclear science competition organized by the IAEA and the UAE government was a major event. The success shows me that, though I may be fearful or anxious about certain skills, following through and continuing to have a motivated and self improving attitude are the key to endurance and perseverance."


The winning idea proposed by the students called for the establishment of a citizen science program called “The Global Research and Environmental Education through Nuclear Technology” or GREENTech. GREENTech was proposed to be a government research arm and to operate in collaboration with other public scientific organizations and institutions worldwide. GREENTech will provide education regarding nuclear physical research methods to students, who in turn provide GREENTech with field data and environmental samples that can be analyzed through these nuclear methods.

Using big data analysis there will be better depth and breadth of knowledge that will inform intervention strategies. This project will directly benefit the environment and protect our mineral, atmospheric and water resources for future generations. Another major advantage of this idea lies in its proposed involvement of students from high-schools and universities in nuclear science, and its potential to include more women in STEM research as a means to meet one of the sustainable goal of gender equality.

Nuclear scientists are using cutting edge research and innovation to tackle 21st century problems and achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Video from IAEA: link

In a few years, don’t be surprised if you find students from the UAS Dubai alumni body active in the  United Nations IAEA network of leading scientists, policy makers, or leaders of global change within the field of nuclear science and technology. They have been introduced to some very exciting possibilities during their recent visit to the IAEA headquarters for the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Development held on November 28 - 30, 2018. Syabil Azri Arian, who is also an active Model UN participant at UAS was amazed to find out how the field of science affects  the work of the UN in the real world; for him, it was a unique cross-curricular link. In his own words, “It really gave me a renewed drive to pursue my dreams of someday being able to use my passion to benefit to the global community”.