Dubai, UAE, 9 March 2015: Engineering students from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai (RIT Dubai) – a leading American university - won the Official Judges' Award of the Future Generation Competition organized by the Informa Energy Group at the Middle East Electricity conference with their project “Solar Powered Car and Desert Cooler.”
The aim of this competition is to highlight the potential and innovation of undergraduate engineering students in the UAE. The challenge for the participants was to design and develop a pioneering solution for energy efficiency, energy conservation, or alternative energy and present their ideas. Organized during one of the largest power events in the world, RIT Dubai students had the opportunity to display their work in front of 20,000 international visitors and over 1,200 exhibitors.
Since the Rochester Institute of Technology New York opened one of its global campuses in Dubai in 2008, part of the university’s overall strategy has been to enhance research, innovation, and to support the realization of the UAE Vision 2021 in vital areas such as sustainability, energy efficiency, and sustainable environment.
The campus, located in Dubai Silicon Oasis, houses two main research centers for its engineering students: the Energy & Sustainability Center and the Mechatronics Laboratory. The focus of this program is on energy sustainability and efficiency in the UAE and the rest of the world, and this award-winning project is only one of the many innovative solutions students have created.
Anishta Lakhani, Bilal Sharqi, Mohamed Amin, and Sami Jouaneh created a prototype to harness the sun’s energy and use it to cool a car. Living in the UAE, or any country with a hot climate and plenty of sunlight, causes cars to heat up tremendously when parked outside, especially when directly under the sun. The idea is to use the energy given off by the sun and develop a cooling system that works independently of the car’s engine or its air conditioning system.
By placing a solar panel on the roof of a car, electricity can be generated and stored in a battery. This power will be supplied to a system of thermoelectric coolers that, in turn, provide a cooling effect when the car is parked and the engine turned off. Thermoelectric coolers are devices which turn hot and cold when power is supplied to them.
Using solar power for the energy source, thermoelectric coolers are used to bring down the temperature inside a parked car, especially effective during the scorching summer months.
'It was a wonderful experience participating in the competition and the response we got was overwhelming,” said Bilal Sharqi. “People approached us asking when we are going to make it a finished product and were willing to sponsor us. Explaining our ideas while getting to know so many professionals who encouraged us was great exposure for college students. Winning was just the icing on the cake.”
The judge's award was decided by a panel of three industry experts who reviewed all of the entries.
In addition to the winning entry, RIT Dubai entered another project “Automotive Thermoelectric Generator” which placed second. The participants were Hamza Hashmi, Michelle Jayawickrama, Mohamed Amin, Sami Jouaneh, and Syed Siddiq.
Dr. Wa’el Abdel Samad, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at RIT Dubai stated, “What I really like about the Future Generation Competition is the fact that undergraduate students get to interact with engineers from industry and not just people from academia.”
He continued, “A priceless outcome of our students’ participation in this completion was learning how to sell and promote their ideas to potential investors and sponsors. Such skills are often hard to teach in a formal classroom setting, which is why, as faculty, we always encourage students to participate in such competitions.”
RIT Dubai is honored to support Dubai’s initiatives to become a sustainable and smart city, and looks forward to the impact these innovations will have on the community and the world. This public-private endeavour is emblematic of the interdisciplinary thinking RIT Dubai aims to foster in its students so that they, too, may go forth and improve their world with a combination of creative thinking and leading-edge technology.
Sami Jouaneh, part of both of RIT Dubai’s competition entries, remarked, “This competition really benefited me on a personal level and facilitated the interaction between students and faculty. Industry professionals were willing to fund us in our senior design project(s) and some of us made an impression that granted them a semi-guaranteed job offer.”