The Jury

Profile of

Dr. Khalid Al-Ali

Entrepreneur and Former Executive Director, scientist and advisor at NASA
Jury since
Season 8
Without the perseverance of innovators and visionaries behind Apollo 11, the spaceship wouldn’t have left the launch pad – let alone land on the moon. Be bold. Be daring. No region has a monopoly on genius or talent. Set your gaze high and follow your dreams, you might just change the world one day.

Kids in the 1980s dreamed about meeting a star football player like Maradona or a chart-topping singing sensation like the moon-walking Michael Jackson. Dr. Al-Ali though, wasn’t interested. His role models were different. He was on top of the world when he met a different moonwalker – Alan Shepard, the Apollo astronaut who went to space (and famously hit golf balls on the moon).

In many ways, Dr. Al-Ali’s development and rapid success mirrored that of the country he grew up in, Qatar. His rise, like his country’s, was fueled by vision, education, and ambition.  His early role models were close to home. His father was the first Qatari electrical engineer who was in charge of Qatar’s electrical and water infrastructures.  His mother, an acclaimed nuclear physicist, was in charge of Qatar’s healthcare management and hospitals, and built a college and a university in Qatar. Support pillars and expert guidance in one - a formula for success indeed.

“Now I am a proud father and a proud husband myself. I treasure my children, and I want to bring them up in such a way that they appreciate the powers of knowledge and innovation,” he said. “I am equally passionate about inspiring young people around the world to be interested in the humanity-transforming potential of science and technology.”  

His love for science took him across the ocean to study mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder in the United States. Afterward, he went on to complete his doctorate at the University of California, Berkley in mechanical and electrical engineering. 

Dr. Al-Ali landed his dream job at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S. and worked on launching two spacecraft, having designed and built intelligent planetary robots and drones. Using his solid educational background and a decade-long experience at NASA, he started his own Silicon Valley Company, Senseta. Delivering the best artificial intelligence and machine learning as tools to improve human lives became his new spot on the horizon. 

A family man, executive, and space expert, Dr. Al-Ali is adamant about dedicating the spare time he has on promoting science and technology.  He never fails to thoroughly research candidates’ projects, even if it means pulling an all-nighter. “Many of the innovators on the show worry about Dr. Fouad’s feedback, thinking he’s the toughest. But I like to take them by surprise, especially since I have a great poker face,” he laughs. “I’m meticulous. I follow the candidates from the first day of casting. Out of nowhere, I’ll surprise them with questions they never thought of answering. I want to make sure they’re constantly on their toes. I feel a sense of responsibility to them. I like to be prepared, so that I give them what they deserve”.