Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates—21 October 2020: Abu Dhabi University (ADU) announced that students from its College of Engineering (CoE) won the top three places in Abu Dhabi NASA’s Space Apps 2020 Challenge, the world’s largest global hackathon for building innovative solutions for earth and space.
Focusing on the theme “Take action from home with NASA”, teams from around Abu Dhabi put their innovative skills to the test to compete in a 48-hour virtual hackathon, solving challenges using NASA’s open-source data. ADU’s CoE students demonstrated their abilities to tackle real world challenges such as using flying drones to monitor changes in biodiversity, detecting and putting out fires, as well as inventing a sleeping helmet for astronauts.
The NASA Space Apps Challenge – Abu Dhabi first prize, the global award nominee, was given to ADU’s students who invented the biodiversity drone for vegetation monitoring using ECOSTRESS data and autonomous UAV inspection in the UAE, and mainly in the mangrove forests. The team consisted of postgraduate students from the Electrical and Computer Engineering program including Yazeed Omer Eldigair, Obadah Muhammad Habash and Asma Ebrahim Almusharrakh. The second prize and global award nominees from Abu Dhabi were Abdulla Mohammed Alameri, Khadija Mohammed Alserri, Qasim Anees Alyaffeiy, Zayed Aslam Al Blushi, Ali Mohamed Tahsoun Alshehhi and Rami Altai, undergraduate students from the Computer Engineering program. The group of students invented a fire system that detects and controls wildfires utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart drones and satellite data.
The third prize of the local people’s choice award winners; Nada Hussein, Salama Abdulla Al Qubaisi, Farah Shaik, undergraduate students of Computer Engineering program, Yazan Risheh, undergraduate student of Biomedical Engineering program, Salma Said, an undergraduate student from the Science in Information Technology (IT) program and Obada Salman, an undergraduate student from the Cyber Security program, who invented a smart sleep helmet for astronauts, a Virtual Reality (VR) and noise cancelling headset that play content that is tuned based on the monitored brain activity, heart rate and skin temperature, using a sleep schedule app that is adjusted accordingly to awake astronauts to maintain a consistent sleep cycle predicted by a machine learning model. All three teams were supervised by Dr. Mohammed Ghazal, Professor and Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at ADU.
Commenting on this announcement, Dr. Mohammed Ghazal, said: “I am extremely proud of our talented students and their accomplishments in NASA’s Space Apps Challenge – Abu Dhabi; this is a testament of their ambition, ingenuity and creative prowess and a reflection of their ability to mold advanced technologies into solutions that are able to address real world problems. In ADU’s CoE, we equip our students with advanced skills and expertise to give them a competitive edge in a vibrant learning culture.”
Dr. Hamdi Sheibani Dean of the College of Engineering at Abu Dhabi University, said: “ADU remains committed to providing its student with high-quality education to foster leading independent thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators, by pushing the limits of students’ imaginations and encouraging innovative ideation that supports both local and international communities. On behalf of ADU, we thank the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for this opportunity and look forward to winning NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge.”
The ADU students who won the first global award will be granted a complementary month-long trial to Sentinel Hub, a platform for the processing and distribution of Earth Observation (EO) data.
The judges rated the competing teams based on the impact and practicality of their solutions, the degree of creativity and innovation in the proposed solutions, the validity of scientific workability, how responsive the innovative solutions are to the challenge at hand, in addition to how effectively the team presented their project.