The Qatar University (QU) has successfully implemented a summer training programme, with the participation of 234 undergraduate and postgraduate students, online for the first time due to the precautionary measures imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The highly-contagious coronavirus causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Six research centres participated – the Centre for Advanced Materials, the Biomedical Research Centre, the Central Laboratories Unit, the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute, the Laboratory Animal Research Centre, and the QU Young Scientists Centre – which launched programmes focusing on national priorities and the needs in various fields consistent with the QU Strategy 2018-2022, and to support the country’s orientation towards a knowledge economy.
The training programme at the Centre for Advanced Materials focused on projects related to the application of nanotechnology and emerging technologies in water production, energy production, alternative energy sources, and support for innovation in sustainable development areas, along with protecting materials against corrosion or the electric field.
The programme at the Biomedical Research Centre for students of the Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Engineering Faculties included highly-specialised technical laboratory applications presented by specialist lecturers, in line with the Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation Strategy 2030, including the qualification of Qatari cadres in scientific research.
In the Central Laboratories Unit, the programme was designed to be in line with local needs and the latest global scientific developments, in the industrial, medical, agricultural and other service areas, with attention to the practical aspect of accurate measurement devices and chemical analysis for 11 devices, in addition to focus on research and industrial applications, interpretation of results for different measurement methods, quality management of chemical analyses, and safety methods in laboratories.
The Social and Economic Survey Research Institute training programme involved focus on all stages of developing field surveys, from designing questionnaires, methods of data collection – including data collection through telephone contact with survey respondents (CATI), data collection through the field visit and face-to-face interview with respondents (CAPI), and data analysis using the STATA programme, used in writing published reports and magazines.
The institute also focused on developing the trainees’ skills in designing studies and public opinion polls related to local and global issues, which includes participation in a new research project recently funded by an internal grant at QU on the coronavirus pandemic in Qatar, entitled Trends on awareness of public risks, behavioural responses, and compliance with precautionary measures.
The Laboratory Animal Research Centre presented a programme that focused on the foundations and standards for quality assurance for laboratory and professional practices in the world of scientific research laboratories, and in diagnostic and monitoring laboratories in the field of microbiology, in addition to environmental and health monitoring techniques, risk management and laboratory waste.
The QU Young Scientists Centre training programme focused on the research skills necessary to keep on the same level of global trends related to scientific research, and clarify the foundations and concepts necessary for its professional and correct implementation, as well as refine the basic skills necessary for students towards building a knowledge economy, such as leadership and adaptation skills with different conditions: innovation, problem-solving skills, and the ability to analyse data and information.
The training programme also focused on the concept of community participation and inclusion between the academic stages to achieve the greatest benefit by including associate students from different academic levels.
In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA), the Qatar University’s vice-president for Research and Graduate Studies, Professor Mariam Ali al-Maadeed, confirmed QU’s success in implementing the summer remote training programme for students.
She said that the QU’s keenness to implement remote training programmes reflects its ability to overcome challenges in order to advance knowledge and drive leadership and innovation.
Al-Maadeed added that the interest in summer training programmes is part of the 2018-2022 transformation strategy at the Qatar University, which is known for its qualitative distinction in education and research, and aims to train students in scientific research methods and techniques through work in research laboratories and their participation in research projects.
She pointed out that the research and graduate studies sector at the Qatar University follows the approach of leadership and innovation in its research and training plans, to seek excellence, with a focus on development and supporting creativity in research fields compatible with national priorities and community needs.
Al-Maadeed stressed that the university provides a conducive environment for a culture of research and innovation, and is keen on diversifying and sustaining sources of funding for research projects, and on the partnerships it holds to develop Qatar’s economy.
For their part, the officials of the research centres, in statements to QNA, praised the enthusiasm shown by the students during the training period, and the motivation and desire demonstrated for learning, which reflected positively on their research performance.
They also praised the students’ capability to overcome the challenge of distance training.
Biomedical Research Centre director Dr Asma al-Thani said that despite initial doubts about the efficiency and operation of summer training programmes via electronic platforms, the centre’s experience has been very positive, and has proven that students and employees can adapt and overcome the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus measures.
Social and Economic Survey Research Institute director Dr Hassan ElSayed stressed that despite the challenges this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the experience has so far proven its effectiveness, as the trainees join meetings with the remote research team, participate in discussions, receive the training basic elements, and performs the tasks for evaluation.
For her part, QU Laboratory Animal Research Centre (LARC) director Dr Hamda al-Naimi praised the support that training programmes had received this year to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.
She said that the research and graduate studies sector succeeded in providing an electronic platform supported by a qualified technical team to support the centre’s efforts in a professional and flexible manner.
Qatar University – Young Scientists Centre director Dr Noora al-Thani expressed her pride in the summer training programme as the first achievements of the centre in the field of scientific research, and the integration between the university and secondary levels in promoting the culture of research.
She emphasised the success of the centre in attaining several achievements, the most important of which is attracting high school students to study scientific majors at Qatar University and to form a bridge of co-operation and exchange of knowledge and experiences between them and the university students.
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