LAU students’ innovation a winner at entrepreneurial competition
Business concept of marketing and accounting students earns startup sponsorship from the Inas Abou Ayyash Foundation for its originality and social impact.
A team of LAU students took center stage at an awards ceremony on campus today to receive trophies in recognition of their success at the Abou Ayyash Foundation (IAAF) University Awards Program 2017 competition.
The students had in August been selected to receive a $10,000 startup sponsorship after presenting their proposal to a jury panel that included IAAF founder and president Inas Abou Ayyash, an LAU alumna. Of the twenty projects submitted, including one by another LAU team, four were selected for their merit as business ideas and social impact.
“It’s important that the youth still believe in this country,” said Abou Ayyash. “Hopefully, IAAF will be their helping hand and will stand by their side in everything they do.”
Students from LAU, the Lebanese University, the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) and Beirut Arab University presented their projects during a ceremony at Le Gray Hotel in Beirut, attended by President Joseph G. Jabbra and Minister of State for Women’s Affairs Jean Oghassabian.
In his speech, the minister praised the initiative, adding that a Lebanon based on creativity, education and the youth’s potential is the Lebanon we all want. “Our aim is to drive these innovative projects toward success,” he added. “We certainly hope they stay in Lebanon, but our main focus is for the youth to succeed and realize their dreams.”
The winning project by LAU business students Jad al Masri, Jana Amache and Nour Jammoul consists of an application that facilitates job placements to empower women and build sustainable communities. The students recruit underprivileged individuals able to provide domestic help―cooking, sewing, housecleaning, babysitting and so on―and match them with potential employers.
The concept originated from the students’ engagement in various clubs, organizations and courses at LAU that made them aware of current social challenges and needs. Their membership in the AIESEC committee—the largest non-profit youth-run organization—at LAU, in particular, helped them brainstorm and come up with the idea.
“AIESEC works toward Sustainable Development Goals and holds conferences on global issues, and IAAF suggested a list of topics similar to what is discussed at AIESEC,” said al Masri. “I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for LAU’s support system,” he added. “I’m happy I was part of this competition because I really believe in the impact that our project can have.”
According to Jad, Minister Oghassabian showed great interest in the project as the ministry is working on launching a project for empowering women. “He spoke to me during the Q&A and invited us to the ministry to discuss how we can take the project further,” he said. A date for the meeting has not yet been set, but the students look forward to the possibility of such collaboration.
Another team of LAU students presented a second project, Eye-ron, which consists of a steam iron with an embedded camera that determines the garment’s contours, and relays the data to a motor which sets the iron in motion, thereby reducing energy consumption and increasing safety.
The idea, the brainchild of mechanical engineering students Tarek Senjab and Daniel Zalghout, started off as a project for a course in Instrumentation and Measurement. “Adding the camera feature was hard, but it was our instructor who motivated us to do it,” said Senjab.
Although the project was not selected, IAAF promised to advertise it on social media, for which the students were extremely grateful. “IAAF not only provides students with financial support, but also helps us believe in our ideas and hopefully try to achieve them in the future,” said Senjab.
Both teams had learned about the competition through LAU that strives to encourage its students’ creativity and social awareness. Their successes are testimony to the high education standards and competitive edge in the job market that the university provides.
[This article was first published on 31 August and updated on 11 October]