Sheikh Abdullah praises ‘bright future’

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Emirates Foundation, honoured 60 high school and university students for their innovations and ideas in the fields of science and technology at Zayed University.
Abhishek Patankar and Mohammed Ishaq Khan were winners from Gems Modern School Academy in Dubai for their Solar-Plastic Fuel in Sustainable Energy. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Abhishek Patankar and Mohammed Ishaq Khan were winners from Gems Modern School Academy in Dubai for their Solar-Plastic Fuel in Sustainable Energy. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // A self-cooling jacket, recycled plastic developed to harness sunlight for energy and a better designed transmission system.

These were just a few of the winning projects at the Think Science competition awards ceremony on Tuesday.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Emirates Foundation, honoured 60 high school and university students for their innovations and ideas in the fields of science and technology at Zayed University.

“The creativity and intelligence of these young scientists is a testament of the accomplishments of the UAE as a nation,” Sheikh Abdullah said. “We are proud of the milestones the country has achieved in encouraging and empowering our young talent in the fields of science and technology.”

Sheikh Abdullah added: “You are the bright future, and we see in you the ability to embody the vision of Sheikh Zayed, may the Almighty rest his soul, in being knowledgeable citizens who are able to contribute effectively to the nation’s progress and development.”

More than 7,000 students competed in nine categories for schools and three categories for universities including electrical engineering, non-conventional energy, smart and safety systems and sustainable energy.

The list of categories are specifically designed to be relevant to and enhance the local economy, said Clare Woodcraft, chief executive of the Emirates Foundation. “These fields are not obscure and can be applied to the UAE’s current industry and its development.”

Ms Woodcraft said the most important aspect of the competition was to get Emirati youth to realise how technology is used, why it is relevant, and how they can be involved in shaping the future.

“When science and technology is taught in formal academic institutions, often young people don’t see the relevance to their daily lives and to their future. Young people are passively consuming technology and we want them to become active consumers of it, to learn about it and apply it.”

She added that interest in the programme had noticeably increased this year, not only among the students but also the organisations sponsoring the event.

“Interest in the event from our corporate sponsors is increasing as they see opportunity for spotting talent and the message is getting out to youth in the UAE that growth in this country is coming about through science and technology.

“If you want an inspiring career, science and technology should be a priority.”

Winning the sustainable energy section as well as the overall prize in the high school categories were Abhishek Patankar, Mohammed Ishaq Khan, and Daksh Varyani for their Solar-Plastic Fuel project.

They were able to shape recycled plastic into a disk that concentrated the sun’s rays so it could heat up liquid or gas to convert to energy.

“We combined two technologies we found online and were able to achieve temperatures of up to 600°F,” Mohammed said.

His teammate, Abhishek, said they had worked for more than six months on the project but receiving the award from Sheikh Abdullah was worth all the effort.

The winning team want to take their project further and are planning to approach Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in a month or so.

Taking part in the event for the second year with their winning project in the transportation high school category were Aisha Al Ali, 17, Noha Khalid Babalghoum, 18, and Mira Al Ansaari, 17, from the Dubai National School.

“We realised that road accidents are a major problem of the society so we started looking for a solution for the problems,” said Mira, who consulted with her father, a police officer in Dubai.

Their project consists of a surveillance system sensor that automatically contacts the authorities when a vehicle is involved in accident.

The students were not only proud of their achievements but also the fact that a significant number of female students were involved in the competition.

“With a lot of Emirati girls participating it shows they want to prove women can be better than men,” said Aisha.

The all-female team said it was just a matter of time before women were the majority in the science and technology fields in the UAE. “We receive the same education and we can give the same effort that men give, if not more,” said Mira.

talsubaihi@thenational.ae

Published: May 27, 2014 04:00 AM

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