“Any dream is attainable with enough work, effort and time,” says Khaled Al Sharif, a young Jordanian engineer who recently landed a job at the US space agency NASA in California.
Sharif is now serving as a robotics engineer for the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) in NASA's Ames Research Centre in Mountain View, which explores extreme environments, remote locations and uncharted worlds with missions in computer vision, geo-spatial data systems, human-robot interaction, planetary mapping and robot software.
The young Jordanian's journey at NASA traces back to 2016, when the Crown Prince Foundation selected him as one of the 12 outstanding students to be sent to the Ames Research Centre for an internship.
NASA’s first partnership with an Arab country, the internship programme provides Jordan’s top engineering students from universities across the Kingdom with the opportunity to conduct practical, hands-on research at the US space agency.
“I was very lucky to be selected by the Crown Prince Foundation to sponsor my internship at NASA,” Sharif told The Jordan Times, encouraging “every aspiring Jordanian dreamer to get in touch with the foundation and see what it has to offer, as it has many initiatives that help youth get closer to their goals, and they are not limited to internships”.
Khaled got his second opportunity with the US space agency in September 2017, when he was awarded the first place at the NASA Europa Challenge 2017 competition along with communications engineer Farah Salah.
The winning application, World Weather, enabled scientists, meteorologists and the general public interested in weather related topics to create three-dimensional and four-dimensional images using weather data from different sources, Petra reported.
“It was definitely a journey of perseverance,” Sharif recalled when asked about the steps that have taken him up to this position, stressing “self-study is a must these days if you want to excel, and a common misconception is that your university will teach you all you need to do well at your job, when the truth is that almost 90 per cent of your knowledge will come from other sources.”
“Fellow engineers should spend less time worrying about their grades and academic accomplishments and start focusing on more tangible achievements,” he continued, warning “we get so caught up in the traditional cycle of high school and university that we forget that, to actually become unique in the ever-challenging job market, we have to set ourselves apart from the crowd.”
“The world around you and the tools you use everyday — all of it has been designed and built by people no smarter than yourself. They are just people that worked a little harder on themselves," the engineer concluded, elaborating on the words of the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs.