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Engineering solutions to today’s problems

June 5, 2014—

“Engineers need to harness the power of innovation; without creativity we cannot address the dire problems that we face as a society,” says associate professor and assistant dean of engineering, Dr. Barbar Akle. In line with this ethos, LAU’s School of Engineering organized its seventh annual Engineering Fair on Byblos campus on May 16.

Over 150 students from all engineering disciplines were involved in the daylong event that showcased their technical and creative savvy in the form of projects that promote a social good. The assignments presented are part of course or Capstone Design Projects. The students were given free reign and only told to come up with an original project. “Creativity is a competitive advantage, for this reason we strongly encourage our students to use the full range of their imagination and implement an solution spurred by thinking outside the box,” Akle explained. “Several students teamed up with graphic design students supervised by assistant professor of graphic design Dr. Tarek Khoury to help them market their projects using pictograms as an international language in the form of concept, logos, and infographics,” he adds, demonstrating the interdisciplinary nature of the event.
 

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This year’s fair was special, with around 25% of the students also involved in the UNICEF Global Challenge competition. The challenge encouraged students to come up with an innovative solution to a development problem such as shelters, first response, child survival, pollution, energy, and malnutrition among others. The top teams will have the opportunity to work closely with UNICEF to take their design from theory to practice. LAU, the American University of Beirut (AUB) and City University of New York (CUNY) are participating in the challenge.

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“Health Monitor Device” is the brainchild of Maya Reslan, Nicolas Habre, and Ahmad Tabbarah. “The UNICEF challenge encouraged participants to come up with a way to help the health of refugees in Lebanon, and after much research we realized that there is a shortage of doctors attending to the needs of these refugees—especially for children,” explained Reslan. The trio came up with a relatively low-cost instrument designed for infants that records a baby’s weight, height, and temperature as well as capturing an image of the baby. This information is then transmitted via email to a qualified physician who can follow up if there is cause for concern.

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Hani Kamareddine, Amro Hilal and Zafer Al Sayegh proudly presented their project “Water Saver and Soap Dispenser.” The group entered the UNICEF competition and created a fully automated device that dispenses precisely the right amount of soap and water. “Water is a precious commodity and so much is wasted when we wash our hands—our goal was to remedy that,” said Sayegh.

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Interested bystanders and fellow students curiously examine the designs as engineering students savored the chance to present their projects. “This is a great opportunity for students to be hands-on,” says Akle, adding, “This event also highlights the importance of communication and presentation skills—at LAU we train our students to be the future engineering leaders of this region and demonstrate their leadership skills.”

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Selim Ghanem and Mazen Bazzan present their project “Smart Health Monitor.” As they explained it, almost 7 million children under the age of five die every year of curable diseases. To tackle this problem, the duo came up with an innovative machine that can aid physicians and make routine check-ups more effective and efficient. “Some of the refugees present in Lebanon are not financially able to take their children to a doctor so we decided to come up with a device that will record weight, height, body temperature, lung sounds and also take a full body photograph,” explained Ghanem. “We have millions of refugees in Lebanon and they deserve to have proper medical treatment,” said Bazzan.

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Michelle Mansour, Maha Yozbeck, Joyce El Beyrouty, Bassel Kassem, and Daniella Sarkis (not shown) stand beside their display “Incubaby” which is a simple, effective, low-cost incubation machine designed specially for infants. “In hospitals, incubators are very expensive and public hospitals often do not have an adequate supply,” explained Kassem. “Our prototype only costs $300 and stimulates a mother’s womb, including a feature that warns the nurse should anything goes wrong,” he says, smiling.

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