Students put brains together for green solutions

DUBAI — Sumerah Saeed, Wasique C. and Asareh Ebrahimpour were total strangers to each other, but a strong interest in two of the UAE’s biggest concerns — obesity and environment — brought the aspiring interior designers to combine their efforts along with other youth at a recently held competition called Al Habtoor & ISG Student Challenge at Dubai World Trade Centre.

By Farhana Chowdhury

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Published: Mon 22 Nov 2010, 12:25 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:05 PM

“We’ve had conflicts but ultimately had to give up our personal desires to work together for the benefit of the group. We’ve made good and bad decisions but we were responsible for them,” said 21-year-old Sumerah from Dubai-based Manipal University.

She said that suggestions had poured in from all team members and it had been difficult for them to cooperate with each other at first but their attitudes changed as they learned to put their differences aside and focus on their goal. Apart from coming up with innovtive ideas, the four-day contest gave the young adults insight into hands-on project planning as well as something more to value than just recognition for their efforts, and that is, trust and teamwork. “We were unaware of others’ capabilities but at the end of the day, we discovered new things, gained knowledge, respect for one another and made new friends,” said Wasique, 21, from Heriot-Watt University, Dubai.

The competition in its second year, titled ‘Urban Playground: Active Design for a Healthy Urban Environment’, was divided into phases where individual ideas were presented, then participants were grouped into two teams and asked to conjure up a recreational and attractive eco-friendly solution set in a hypothetical location.

“People do not fully realise that the earth is small compared to other planets in the universe and we are disturbing it by using up its resources very fast. We should be open to sustainable means of living, re-use, recycle and keep learning about ways we can make things better,” said 22-year-old Asareh from Ajman University of Science and Technology.

Part of Team B’s winning design against their opposing team was a manually powered vehicle that can use the rider’s energy to light up pedal tracks in its surroundings and this could potentially be made into reality at one of Dubai’s bustling malls in the future.

“I had found out about a material called Graphene from a news report on TV, weeks before the competition. It’s an organic compound that can store energy and has many interesting properties that could be very useful to the environment, so I thought I’d add it into our project,” said Wasique.

“We need to explore new technology that can help the environment and try to put it to use here.” Speaking of her future dreams, Sumerah said, “My ambition is to become a successful designer and contribute something back to the society so that no one is left out. I want to contribute ideas that will benefit people and the environment.

This exposure to a real-life project and being able to work with experts and other students has been very exciting for me.”

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