Dubai: Students win 2nd place at international boat challenge with energy-efficient system

They were the only participants representing the MENA region


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 20 Jul 2022, 12:45 PM

A team of students from a Dubai University have earned second place in the 9th edition of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge as they demonstrated their alternative boat propulsion systems.

Held recently at the Yacht Club de Monaco, the group of technology enthusiasts from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai called ‘Sailing Tigers’, featured innovations in design and construction. The team was commended for its new foldable cockpit, making the vessel more energy efficient while reducing transportation costs to the event.

They were the only participants representing the MENA region at the international environmental challenge and showcased clean energy propulsion technology in tests of endurance, speed, and manoeuvrability, by finishing second, third and fourth places in each category, respectively.

Explaining the thinking behind the technology, the Sailing Tigers’ mentor and Chair of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at RIT Dubai, Dr Ghalib Kahwaji, said, “The team has explored the use of solar cells and other clean energy solutions to further enhance the efficiency of the boat that we took to last year’s competition.”

Shedding light on the challenges while executing such a project Kahwaji added, “The most significant modification this year was designed out of necessity to transport the craft to the event. Our biggest challenge is always financing participation in these contests and the dismantlable cockpit is an outstanding innovation that reduces our carbon footprint while making the competition more accessible and cost effective. We are extremely proud of the ingenuity of the students who have come together across disciplines to put the UAE on the map in this prestigious international competition.”

Putting their innovations to the test on the lake close to the University’s campus in Dubai Silicon Oasis, the Sailing Tigers club is a group of students from a range of nationalities and academic disciplines working on clean energy projects alongside their studies.

Aiming to launch a strong challenge to this year’s winning teams from Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, the Sailing Tigers are already preparing for the 2023 edition of the competition.

22-year-old team captain and industrial engineering major, Reem Mohamad Muflehi, said, “The challenge was the perfect chance to showcase young talents from the UAE. As the only team from the entire MENA region, we proved to the world how a relatively new and overseas team can be serious competition, and next year we will be aiming for the first place.”

The RIT Dubai team was invited to attend the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge in 2019 and went on to make their debut in the contest last year, being the first team outside of Europe to participate in the competition.

As part of this year’s event, the team also met with Yacht Club de Monaco President, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Reflecting on the Sailing Tiger’s success, RIT Dubai President, Dr Yousef Al-Assaf, opined, “One of our main goals is to provide students with global opportunities to learn new skills, which will add value to the businesses and organizations they join when they graduate. The Monaco Energy Boat Challenge is tackling one of the most critical issues of our time, to harness renewable energy for a sustainable future. Our students have had the opportunity to develop real-world experience in this important field.”

He added, “As a university, we will continue to respond to these global challenges by presenting our students with the opportunities to build their practical skills, which is a vital part of their education.”


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