Young innovators make their mark

Emirates Foundation Think Science competition awards 27 prizes to young inventors across 12 categories.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, presents a Think Science Competition award to Rami Elmorsi, a Grade 12 pupil at Westminster School. Lee Hoagland / The National
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ABU DHABI // An electric car that uses air to charge itself while driving was among the ideas from young innovators that were awarded in a national science contest on Monday.

Rami Elmorsi and Amro Alzeiq, Grade 12 students at Westminster School in Dubai, were among 60 innovators between the ages of 15 and 24 to win one of 27 prizes in 12 science and technology categories, in the annual Emirates Foundation Think Science Competition awards ceremony.

A judging committee comprising 52 scientific experts selected the winners from a pool of about 550 students and 200 projects from across the country.

“This is quite a great award,” said Rami, 17, whose car won two prizes, including best of the best project at school level.

“This was the biggest chance I had to actually display my project for professionals. I’m quite happy, I’m over the Moon with getting these prizes today.”

The car would have a mechanical system that sucks in air, then pumps it into a generator when the car is moving so electricity generated is stored in the battery, Rami said. High temperature would be used to reduce carbon monoxide emissions by triggering the filtration system when the car is parked.

“We use solar panels to heat up the filter when the car is parked, so we end up with a reduction of toxic gasses,” he said.

Another project came from a team of University of Sharjah College of Pharmacy students who say they have made a discovery that could improve medical treatment for diabetics and cancer patients.

Their team proposed to inhibit proteins in the body, called selective HDAC inhibitors, to treat diseases.

“HDACs are proteins in our body,” said Lujain Aloum, 23, who recently graduated from the university and worked with Mohammed Khalid, 23, on the project. “They are over-expressed in certain diseases, like diabetes, cancer and urological diseases.

“The idea of the project is to inhibit those proteins, and when we inhibit them we can treat the diseases.”

Ms Aloum said that pharmaceutical treatment options already exist, but these drugs often come with severe side effects. She hoped the team’s discovery could be patented and first tested on animals, then human beings.

The project won two prizes at the competition, including best project at university level.

Ms Aloum thanked the Ruler of Sharjah, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, for funding the project through the school. She also thanked the Think Science competition and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Emirates Foundation, who attended the ceremony and praised the winners.

“Seeing Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed’s support, of course, it means a lot,” said Ms Aloum.

Some of the winners will receive mentoring for a one-year period from the Emirates Foundation’s corporate partners. They also took home certificates, trophies and an undisclosed monetary award.

“This year’s competition attracted some of the brightest young scientific minds from across the country and provided a unique showcase of the UAE’s abilities in the fields of science and technology,” said Maytha Al Habsi, chief programmes officer at the Emirates Foundation.

“The aim of Think Science is to encourage the youth to take an interest in science, and I am confident many of the students here today will be inspired to take up science as a career. What these young people have achieved through this innovative national-level competition is nothing short of remarkable.”