Engineering for a green future
LAU hosts ASME student conference focusing on green engineering.
LAU student Jad Daoud wins first place in the Old Guard Oral Presentation. He is surrounded by Dr. Jimmy Issa, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and coordinator of the event (right), and colleague Dr. Michel Khoury, associate professor (left).
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Around 150 mechanical engineering students from the Middle East and South East Asia converged at LAU Byblos on May 11-12 to participate in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) Student Professional Development Conference (SPDC), hosted by ASME LAU chapter.
Under the title “Earth Needs You,” the two-day conference created networking opportunities for the participants, supplying a forum for technology and knowledge transfer for both undergraduate and graduate students from renowned universities including Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, along with Abu Dhabi Polytechnic, Cairo University and LAU.
The conference included a lecture on green energy.
“This is an excellent opportunity for mechanical engineering students to compete in a friendly manner, developing the technical and interpersonal skills required in the workplace,” said Dr. George E. Nasr, dean of the School of Engineering and professor of electrical engineering, at the event’s opening ceremony. “The SPDC conference helps to bridge theory and practice.”
The conference provided a forum for students to show their engineering skills and technical know-how in a total of six student competitions: the Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition, the Mechatronics Contest, the Old Guard Technical Poster Competition, the Student Design Exhibition (iShow), the Rapid Design Competition, and the Student Design Competition.
While the Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition required participants to deliver a 15-minute presentation on an engineering topic of their choice, the Old Guard Technical Poster Competition required them to design a poster effectively capturing and communicating a specific issue in engineering.
This year’s Student Design Competition focused on green transportation energy, asking students to design devices that run on green and renewable energy.
Ehab Abdallah, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at LAU, used solar energy, compressed air, and propelled-energy generators to run his vehicles.
“Working on this project was both challenging and rewarding. My team and I are very proud to be participating in this conference,” he says.
Conversely, the Student Design Exhibition provided a platform for engineering students to showcase original and creative designs, bringing together students and faculty members in one venue.
Not all competitions provided the participants with the luxury of preparation time.
Students competing in the Mechatronics Contest, for instance, were given a problem to solve on the spot, with a mere three and a half hours to work on it.
This year’s Mechatronics challenge was to design a “smart curtain system” that allows household curtains to automatically open and close in accordance with both the season and the temperature, thus minimizing energy use and waste.
If designed correctly, explains assistant professor of engineering Dr. Barbar Akle, the smart curtain system would detect changes in temperature, keeping the curtains closed when it is hot outside, opening them again when it cools.
“This can significantly reduce the use of air conditioning in the house,” he concludes.
As the name implies, the Rapid Design Competition provided the participants with a real-world design challenge, giving them only a limited timeframe to develop a solution.
“This is a great platform for mechanical engineering students to converge, see what’s going on in other countries, and share ideas on a global level,” says Dr. Jimmy Issa, assistant professor of engineering, advisor of the ASME-LAU chapter, and coordinator of the SPDC conference.
Yousif Alhosani, a mechanical engineering student at the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, agrees.
“It’s not just about competing against each other. It’s about learning from one another, and familiarizing ourselves with engineering trends in other countries,” he says.
Winners of the Old Guard Oral Competition and the Student Design Competition will participate in the world final contest in Houston, Texas in November 2012.
The event was sponsored by Badawi Group, Larissa Catering Lebanon and Victory Byblos Hotel.
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