Emirati University Students Complete Innovative Online Internships with Leading Japanese Firms

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Abu Dhabi: On August 3rd, 2021, six students of Khalifa University (KU) completed an innovative online internship program coordinated by Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) with four leading Japanese companies in the fields of advanced science and technology.

The eight-week internships started on May 31st, 2021, and focused on technologies and specialisations including advanced agriculture, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The internship program has been held since 2012 to promote industry-academia collaboration between Japanese companies and UAE universities through joint research. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the program moved online for the first time to accommodate the needs of both students and companies, and to provide an alternative education stream when in-person study was not possible. Participation in an eight-week internship is a graduation requirement for the university students, and the flexibility of the host companies and coordination by JICE meant that the students were able to fulfil all requirements through virtual participation.

H.E. Mr. Shihab Alfaheem, UAE Ambassador to Japan, commended both host companies and students. “It is wonderful to have achieved the completion of online internships with leading Japanese organisations despite the pandemic, and I share my congratulations with all involved. I hope that more such opportunities will increase in the future to further enhance the cooperation between our two countries and encourage more learning opportunities,” he said.

Despite being in an online format, the internships were structured to include hands-on experience and remote site tours, bringing the learning to life through interactive experiences.

20 highly talented students applied for the six available spots on this online program, with four of the successful candidates being women.

One of the participants, Ms. Ayesha Mohamed Rashed Aldharif Alshamsi, a senior biomedical engineering major at Khalifa University, completed her internship with Mebiol Inc., a company specialising in advanced agricultural development, and thinks that it was a great experience. Before starting of the online program, Mebiol sent a plant-friendly superabsorbent material to Ayesha in the UAE, and she successfully experimented with growing baby leaves with it. “Exchanging ideas with someone from a different cultural background and expertise helped me to learn more, and by exchanging ideas Mr. Hiroshi Yoshioka, President and Chief Executive Officer, I was able to see how Mebiol’s water retention technologies could be applied to great benefit in regular households in the UAE where water resources are limited,” says Alshamsi.

Ms. Rawdha Hussain Ibrahim Mohamed Alhammadi, a senior computer engineering major at Khalifa University, also participated in the internship, focusing on 2D and 3D renderings and casual prediction for time series data at IHI Corporation, a comprehensive heavy-industry manufacturer  based in Japan, specializing in four main areas—Resource, Energy and Environment; Social Infrastructure and Offshore Facilities; Industrial Systems and General-purpose Machinery; and Aero Engine, Space and Defence. “The eight-week internship program provided me with a great opportunity to gain experience in the areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence,” says Alhammadi. “I was worried at first that I might not learn as much due to the program being remote, but Mr. Riku Sakamoto, Researcher of Advanced Control and Intelligent Sensing from the Technology Platform Center, held meetings with me almost daily along with constant reviews and guidance, and thanks to this I don’t feel I missed anything.”

If the Covid-19 situation continues to improve, there are hopes that it may be possible to coordinate a visit to Japan by the interns as a follow-up to the online program.

About the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE):

Ever since its establishment in 1977, Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) has supported the growth of human resources in partner countries. The purpose of its organization is to contribute to the development of the international community through investing in various activities which strengthen mutually beneficial relations between Japan and other countries. Following the JICE’s motto of ‘Share knowledge and experience. For our world. For the future.’ JICE will work together toward achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). JICE will constantly move forward by planning, proposing and creating projects based upon the flexible mindset to respond to the social issues in changing society across the world.