Ambassador Leaf celebrates the success of the HCT students in annual Northrop Grumman ‘Innovation Challenge’

People talking. (Photo Credit: State Department)Ambassador Barbara Leaf celebrated the success of the Emirati students of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in the Northrop Grumman sponsored “Innovation Challenge” 2015 with a reception at her residence on June 15, 2015 for the participants, mentors, and sponsors. The Innovation Challenge is an autonomous flying competition focused on “learning by doing” and is held in collaboration between US company Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), HCT and Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (ADASI).

Ambassador Leaf commended the students for the dedication to advancing their education and the practical application of they learned. “Each team and each of you have “won” just by participating in this competition because you worked hard, continued to learn, and never gave up. You collaborated with new people and you learned new technologies. You practiced new skills and you experienced the value of sportsmanship. The beauty of the Innovation Challenge is that all of the teams, all of the mentors, all of the sponsors win.”

Ambassador Leaf also praised the Innovation Challenge itself not only as an excellent learning experience but also as an example of the many strong and important US-UAE partnerships that have created the bonds of friendship between our two countries. “I am proud to see American companies, like Northrop Grumman, make these kinds of important investments in the local community. This generous demonstration of corporate social responsibility is a new kind of diplomacy. It builds bridges between the people of United State and the United Arab Emirates.”

The UAE Innovation Challenge began in 2011, reinforcing a ‘Learning by Doing’ philosophy to HCT students. The program gives students the opportunity to design, build and fly unmanned aircraft under the guidance of Northrop Grumman mentors, who travelled to HCT campuses in the UAE over the course of four months to assist each team in preparation for the competition.

The flying competition took place on April 21 & 22 at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. During the competition, each team was judged on different aspects of flying their unmanned autonomous vehicles.

With a record number of 15 participating teams, the 2015 Innovation Challenge reflects a growing interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the UAE. The teams, each consisting of up to seven male or female students, represented the HCT campuses in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Fujairah, Madinat Zayed, Ras Al Khaimah, Ruwais and Sharjah. There were also two teams from the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College, which competed for the second year.

This year the winning team was a group of three young Emirati men and three young Emirati women from the Fujairah colleges – their team was the “Fujairah Gladiators”. The winners will receive a trip to the United States, where they will tour Northrop Grumman facilities and educational institutions to further advance their STEM knowledge. The second place was “Emirates Robotics” from the HCT men’s Dubai campus and they will receive an educational trip to Europe, courtesy of ADASI.

Doug Raaberg, chief executive of Northrop Grumman UAE, commented: “Northrop Grumman is committed to the advancement of STEM education in the UAE. Innovation Challenge remains an excellent platform for this, and we are proud to see its growth each year. This is a unique opportunity for the UAE’s young men and women to explore new career paths, which will ultimately enhance the UAE’s global competitiveness. We are grateful for the enthusiasm and dedication of HCT and ADASI in helping to drive this forward.”

About the UAE Innovation Challenge

To learn more about the competition, visit the Innovation Challenge website

About HCT

Founded in 1988, Higher Colleges of Technology has grown to become the largest of the higher educational institutions in the UAE, gaining a well-respected reputation for innovative learning. With over 20,000 students at 17 campuses throughout the UAE, programmes taught are all relevant to the UAE’s fast growing and evolving economic sectors and embody HCT’s “Learning by Doing” philosophy. For more information on HCT, please visit

About Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit for more information.


Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (ADASI) is the first UAE Company to offer clients a comprehensive range of services to cover all types of autonomous systems. ADASI offers holistic solutions, starting with joint analysis of end-users’ needs, through formalization of their requirements, to equipment selection and procurement. ADASI also offers product or system design, development, testing and commissioning of localized subsystems and systems, and other engineering solutions, as well as training of customer teams, operational support and systems maintenance.