Abu Dhabi students use beetle model to pluck water from thin air

Abu Dhabi students use beetle model to pluck water from thin air 200x131 Abu Dhabi students use beetle model to pluck water from thin airAbu Dhabi, UAE: Taking inspiration from a desert beetle, engineering students in Abu Dhabi University (ADU) have devised a method to produce water out of thin air – literally.

A group of students, called “Nerdy Ninjas”, was picked as a finalist for their “Hydro-Solar Hybrid Plant”, a water-from-air harvester designed to generate water from fog or humidity powered by the sun.

German industrial company Siemens picked up the team’s pioneering idea entry on August 20 from among 78 submitted by students from various Middle East universities.

“We are really delighted to be on the top 20 list of semi-finalists,” Hashim Al Sakkaf, a senior electrical engineering student at ADU and the team’s leader.

“We think,” he said, “our system holds a huge promise in Gulf countries, where entire cities – like Abu Dhabi or Dubai – can often disappear in fog, but where there’s little rain.”

Dr Mohammad Akmal, a professor at ADU and mentor of the three-member team, said: “We are looking forward to this project being selected as one of the top four winning innovations.”

The group’s novel idea fuses solar energy and water-from-air harvester based on the ability of the Namib beetle (Stenocara gracilipes) to survive in the world’s most inhospitable desert.

Academics have studied the beetle extensively. To drink water, it stands on a small sand ridge and faces the breeze with its body angled at 45 degrees, enabling it to catch fog droplets on its hardened wings even if its habitat gets less than 20mm of rainfall annually.

“We’re inspired by this tough beetle,” said Al Sakkaf. “It has a magnificent capability to produce water by using a special layer on its back that absorbs humidity from the air and condenses it – and then drinks it.”

Mohammad Obaidullah, a team member and a senior ADU engineering student, said: “The most important thing in the world nowadays is water, and water scarcity is an issue especially in desert countries.” Ahmad Musleh, another senior ADU engineering student, is the third member of the three-member Nerdy Ninjas.

Most countries in the Gulf use desalination, an energy-intensive and expensive method which can also cause severe damage to the environment – including an increase in the seawater salinity around the station.

Research has emulated the Namib beetle’s water-generating capability. NBD Nanotechnologies, Inc, a Boston-based company, had adopted the idea by inventing a layer that changes humidity in the air into water. The Abu Dhabi students aim to use the technology designed as a hybrid and stand-alone system utilising solar power.

“This hybrid system will have the advantage of two systems combined.

In countries where there’s little rain and lots of fog, like the UAE and many African countries, this hybrid system could mean a lot in solving water scarcity – powered by nothing but sunlight,” Al Sakkaf.

Based on their design, the system will be constructed from a panel with two sides. On one side is the solar cells, and the air-to-water-conversion layer on the other. Siemens will pick the final four winners on September 8 and they will receive between $10,000 to $25,000, and help in possibly commercializing the idea.

© Gulf News

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Dubai parents and schools in legal pact

Dubai parents and schools in legal pact 200x131 Dubai parents and schools in legal pactDubai, UAE: Parents and select schools covered by a new contract to be introduced in September will be legally bound by the agreement, a senior official of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) told XPRESS.

Asked if schools and parents can opt out of the new contract system, Abdul Rahman Nasser, chief of customer relations at KHDA, said: “It will be mandatory for schools and parents to sign the contracts.”

KHDA will implement the school-parent contracts from September 2013, initially covering nearly 10,000 students of six schools — Dubai Modern Education School, Al Ittihad Private School — Al Mamzar, Al Ittihad Private School — Jumeriah, School of Modern Skills,
Greenwood International School and American Academy in Al Mizhar.

While the authority is yet to release the text of the new contract, Nasser gave broad outlines of what’s covered.

“The general outline of the contract will be unified for all schools, but contracting parties will be given leeway on the details … details can be modified by each school where necessary, based on their practices,” he said.

Need for contract
The authority inspected 143 schools with 225,000 students for the school year 2012- 2013.

Why is a written contract necessary between schools and parents? “We want both schools and parents to be aware of their roles, responsibilities and rights,” said Nasser, citing that one reason for the bulk of parent-school disputes has been the lack of clarity.

The contract is renewable and will be signed every year and will contain provisions on fees, as well as conditions on fee increases.

“Fees will be covered in the contracts. All fees must be in line with the fee framework guidelines issued by KHDA,” he said.

Nasser said KHDA developed the idea behind the school-parent contract after extensive research. “It’s an original contract, based on KHDA’s research which includes external international benchmarking, focus groups and meetings with both schools and parents,” he said.

Certain provisions cover the quality of instruction.

“A curriculum section outlines what the school should deliver in terms of teaching. It explains to parents what each child should be learning at each stage of their education.”

As for penalties in case of contractual violations, the official said: “There will be specific penalties applied to either party.”
He said that since the contract is a legally binding document, the KHDA will manage any contract-based disputes.

“The Compliance and Resolution Department has been established to initiate the contracts.”

© Gulf News

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Abu Dhabi teachers get updated on curriculum

ADEC logo Abu Dhab Education Council Abu Dhabi teachers get updated on curriculumAbu Dhabi, UAE: More than 6,000 teachers in Abu Dhabi are to receive training next week to bring them up to speed on changes to the curriculum.

As part of the largest training programme undertaken by Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), 6,202 teachers and faculty heads from kindergarten to Grade 6 classes in Government schools will be taught how to implement the council’s New School Model (NSM) before students return on September 8.

The model has already been implemented to Grade 5, but will apply to Grade 6 for the first time this year. Grade 6 core subjects – Arabic, English, maths and science – will now be taught in six lessons of 45 minutes each, every week, and integrated social studies will be introduced as a new subject.

“Arabic and English medium teachers in Grade 6 will receive training on the new learning outcomes, teaching approaches and assessment components related to the NSM,” said Dr Karima Al Mazroui, Adec’s curriculum division manager.

“It’s one thing to talk about the NSM, but it’s another thing to apply these approaches to classroom practice. We are supporting our teachers to do this.”

Teachers are required to complete 36 hours of professional training a year. Adec will also train 165 Grade 12 teachers in supporting students for university entrance examinations.

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Ugandan orphans receive gift of learning from Dubai students

Untitled 200x133 Ugandan orphans receive gift of learning from Dubai studentsDubai, UAE: A team of university students from the UAE has designed, developed and delivered a software program to teach English as a second language to children in Uganda.

Emirati students Maitha Al Daheri (L-R), Eiman Al Rubaei and Halima Al Naqbi, created an interactive computer game to teach children about UAE history, language and the environment.

The Early Years Application (EYA) uses artificial intelligence to create interactive learning exercises that can adapt to the learning level of the child.

It was developed by a group of information systems students at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, in collaboration with an Early Years teacher at Deira International School.

Keerthi Prasad, SM Rahman and Redwan Hasan developed the EYA program as part of their final-year studies at the university, with the mentorship of Prof Catherine Todd.

The application won the People’s Choice Award at the seventh annual Software Development Trade Show held at the university in June.

“We had a lot of options to choose from when we were picking out our project,” Mr Rahman said. “We looked at options from a logistics application for shipping companies, to solving world hunger.”

Ms Prasad said: “We set out to address one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals – universal primary education, because in a multicultural society such as Dubai, English language skills can provide a vital means of communication for children from many nationalities.

“We never imagined the project would be so successful and the software would travel so far, and we are very happy that our work has gone on to make such a difference to the lives of these young children.”

The Ugandan children involved in the project are poor orphans.

“At first we just wanted to get it done and get a good grade,” said Mr Rahman. “But once we met the students and what they were using and how they were learning, it really pushed us.

“We knew we would be able to help them. And Prof Todd kept telling us that this project has the potential to change lives.

“Having the support and input of a professional in the field was a huge advantage.

“We had no idea how tough this was going to be. There were many factors that we had no concept of, like the algorithm that would identify handwriting.”

Many times throughout the year-long project the team felt frustrated and defeated by the sheer difficulty and scope of the project.

“Every time we felt down and about to give up, Prof Todd was there to guide us and motivate us to keep going,” Ms Prasad said.

She said the app was based on the British curriculum.

“When we first presented our prototype to the students at Deira and they began using the touchscreen, we saw their eyes light up and they were really engaging with the program,” Mr Rahman said.

“That is when we knew it was working. It is a moment I will not forget.”

The EYA program is the first undergraduate project from the UAE to be used to help disadvantaged children in sub-Saharan Africa, and it will continue to be used as a teaching aid.

“I’m not surprised at all with what they’ve achieved,” Prof Todd said. “They are very hard-working and their hard work shows in the final product.”

The software went through a rigorous testing phase by the university on the Deira International students before being installed in an orphanage in Uganda.

There it allowed underprivileged children to interact with technology in ways they would never normally experience.

The university also donated a laptop and touchscreen to the Home for Rescued Children in Uganda.

“When we first started the EYA program and turned on the writing module, in which a student can write a letter or word on the screen with their finger, the children squealed with absolute delight,” Prof Todd said.

“One of the children, Paul, is deaf and was severely burnt as a younger child. We could not take him away from the computer.

“He was just fascinated with it and wanted to learn, like all of the children that tried the software program and used the laptop we donated.”

Prof Todd said she was not sure of whom she was more proud – her students for creating the program or Paul for learning to use it.

“The impact that this software and the computer room as a whole will have on life for these Ugandan children cannot be understated,” said Anouchka Lucas-Carter, a volunteer at the orphanage.

“It will help to change their lives for the better.”

The software is the intellectual property of the university and Deira International.

Prof Todd said the next batch of students would work to improve on the program and make it more flexible.

“We want to have the product out there to be used by people,” she said.

“We also want to collect statistics and research data to look at how the software is helping different children.”

The software is designed for touchscreens.

It has not yet been developed for tablets because of problems with licensing, but the team hopes that will be the next step.

Prof Todd said the focus was on English as a foreign language, but the program would be ideal for other languages.

© The National

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Universities ‘not hiring’ enough Saudi professors

Universities not hiring enough Saudi professors 300x157 Universities not hiring enough Saudi professorsKSA: The Ministry of Labor has issued 476 work visas for King Khaled University (KKU) to recruit academics and employees of other professions from 16 countries.

A report by the General Auditing Bureau (GAB) showed that universities are not hiring enough Saudi professors who graduated from the government’s foreign and domestic scholarship programs. The report included observations that universities are failing to fill vacancies with Saudis who should be given priority.

Minister of Higher Education Khaled Al-Anqari had ordered the universities included in the GAB report, which was issued 10 days ago, to respond to the observations in writing within a month. The report showed that some universities employ more than 48 percent expatriate professors. It also observed that many Saudis are still working as part of the faculty even when they exceeded retirement age.

King Khaled University’s visas were to recruit 80 professors from Egypt and Sudan, 20 professors from South Africa and one from Eritrea, reported Al-Watan newspaper.

Recruitment included 30 professors from Jordan, 20 from Syria, 40 from Yemen, 40 from Algeria, 30 from Morocco, 15 from Mauritania, 20 from Pakistan, 20 from Bangladesh, 35 from India, 20 from United Kingdom, 15 from Romania and 10 from France.

The university’s visas are part of 10,000 visas the Ministry of Labor had issued to government universities last year.

© Arab News 2013

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Abu Dhabi University is centre for aspiring business magnates

ADU Logo 267x225 Abu Dhabi University is centre for aspiring business magnatesAbu Dhabi, UAE: With the rise of the UAE as a lucrative hotspot for investors, Abu Dhabi University (ADU) is attracting aspiring business magnates from all over the world.

Abu Dhabi University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (ADU Enterprise) has been established to provide training, coaching and mentoring for fresh graduates and researchers to bridge the gap between academia and industry.

“Our programme is reversing the trend by the vast majority of start-up businesses that fail within a five-year time frame by incubating out-of-the-box thinkers, who are the architects of tomorrow’s business empires,” said Dr Nabeel Ebrahim, Chancellor of ADU.

“We help entrepreneurs to flourish in any business climate by giving them a supportive ecosystem connecting them to the business community, investors and the wider economy of the UAE and beyond,” he added.

Dr Ebrahim also pointed out that ADU Enterprise programmes are the most popular among many others as shown by the fact that some participants have even opted to fly in from abroad for weekly lectures and fresh ideas.

Participants in ADU Enterprise programmes have been equipped with the various skills they need to develop a business plan, understand the legal requirements and decide on a business organisation structure.

Various courses have been launched at ADU to help entrepreneurs transform their ideas into booming small or medium businesses, which can contribute to the growth and development of the country.

“I went to the extent of flying from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi for weekly lectures because ADU Enterprise programmes equipped me with precious skills such as making irresistible pitches to investors, crafting an innovative business model and looking at the market from all angles,” said Khalid Al Nahedh, a 27-year-old start-up owner from Saudi Arabia.

“Now I am looking beyond starting a company and I am aiming to have several businesses,” he added.

‘Corporate jungle’
An emerging pattern is that entrepreneurial skills are evolving from a luxury into a necessity for those currently in non-business career paths such as engineering, as it fast-tracks their promotion to senior executive positions.

Ebrahim Salem Bin Madi, a 25-year-old mechanical engineering student at ADU, said: “What makes the learning process so enriching is the diversity of methods such as blending groups, networking with prominent guest speakers and presenting different business plans.

“It is not just about what the programme gives you but also what it takes away because it takes away all fears of venturing out solo into the corporate jungle,” Bin Madi added.

“With small and medium enterprises contributing to the overwhelming majority of private sector jobs, it is anticipated that the increased interest in entrepreneurship will boost the job market and the wider economy,” Rima Shaba’an, manager of ADU’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, said.

Rima also pointed out that several courses have been launched such as Starting a Business, which has received a lot of interests and witnessed more than 100 graduates, to help youngsters start their business and equip them with all the necessary skills.

© Gulf News

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Ajman opens technical high schools for boys and girls

ACTVET Ajman opens technical high schools for boys and girlsAbu Dhabi, UAE: Two technical high schools have been opened by the Institute of Applied Technology at Ajman Technology Complex in Al Humaidiyah.

The new branches in Ajman will start operating next week as part of the institute’s strategy to expand technological education.

The schools can take 250 Grade 8 graduates on two campuses – one each for boys and girls. They bring the number of applied technology high schools in the UAE to nine.

Abdullatif Al Shamsi, the director general of the institute, said they was accepting online applications for all branches at http://www.iat.ac.ae.

Applicants have until Wednesday, when admissions tests in science and English will begin.

Mr Al Shamsi urged high-achieving students to submit their applications before the deadline, saying the institute was the gateway to abetter future and the job market.

The Ajman Technology Complex is affiliated with the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

© The National

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