UAE Awards for Good encourage youth to pursue STEM to benefit humanity

Forty drones and robots were selected from more than 1,300 submissions for a chance to win $1 million.

Wizo, the world’s first 3D printed robot that was built in the UAE, poses for a visitor at the UAE AI Robotics for Good awards. Victor Besa for The National
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DUBAI // Robots from around the world have been submitted to the UAE Awards for Good to encourage youth to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics in ways they have not considered before.

Forty drones and robots were selected from more than 1,300 submissions for a chance to win US$1 million.

Although not in the running for the prize, Saif Al Hammadi, 16, was inspired by the prospect and is exhibiting a drone he designed to save lives in warzones.

“I made this drone to detect landmines,” said the Year 11 student from Applied Technology High School in Al Ain.

The Emirati student, who wants to join the Air Force, said science is his passion and wants to create to benefit humanity.

Young Emiratis like him have a great interest in science and technology, but they need guidance, Saif said.

“Boys of my generation have a big interest in innovation and technology. However, we need the support of companies to guide us and take our passion to the next level,” said the inventor, who spent about Dh6,500 to build his robot.

This year, the UAE Awards for Good is divided into two competitions — the UAE Drones for Good and the UAE Artificial Intelligence & Robotics Award for Good, both of which are open to global and regional participants. The winners will be announced Saturday.

At the most junior of levels, 8-year-olds Ma’oza Ali and Fi’ee Mahmud came up with a concept to protect cars.

The duo have invented an umbrella device that can cut sunlight damage on vehicles during the hot summers.

Their maths and science teacher, Norah Al Hammadi, said encouragement can take a childhood idea and turn it into a lifelong profession.

“I am really proud that these young intelligent girls are my students. It is their idea and they work by themselves in producing it. It’s a basic concept, but very beneficial for the public,” the teacher said.

The girls said they wanted to become scientists. Ms Al Hamadi said science is the most popular passion among the young Emirati girls she meets.

“Science is the future. There is no way for any nation to progress other than to invest in science. UAE leadership is exactly the same by investing and giving priority to science and technology,” said Dr Sammi Rassamny, general manager of Digi Robotics, who was there as a partner of the event

Ammar Al Malik, executive director of Dubai Internet City, which is hosting the awards for the third year, said the awards are meant to inspire young minds and better humanity.

“Such initiatives will also lead to new and exciting career opportunities for rising IT talents, and become part of the vibrant community that builds connections between industry players and entrepreneurs,” said Mr Al Malik.

He said that the country is progressing fast to become an IT and scientific hub for the world.

“UAE is investing in its human capital so that we produce best minds and innovation for the welfare of humanity,” he said.