x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

UAE inventors with fingers on the pulse

Students at Khalifa University took part in the Engineering Innovation Day.

ABU DHABI // Amina Belkadi has had family in the hospital too often lately so she was determined to come up with an easier life for patients.

The Algerian student at Khalifa University and three classmates built a wireless heart-rate monitor that can be used anywhere.

"My grandma has had four surgeries in the past year and my dad has a bypass in his heart because he has high cholesterol, so I have experience in this," said Amina, 20.

"This can help because their doctor can be alerted if there is an emergency."

The students bought a heart sensor and built a monitor that reads a patient's heart rate on any computer, iPad or smartphone.

"There is a problem in hospitals because people who need to be there for a long time have to be connected to these tedious machines that have so many wires," said Lama Mahmoud, 22, a Palestinian student in communications engineering.

"They can't move easily, especially if they want to go to the bathroom or the TV."

But Lama said they needed to be continuously monitored by doctors.

"So we said, since everyone is using their iPads and smartphones, why can't we use this idea for this problem?

"The patient can be anywhere and the doctor can access a website at any time to view his heart rate so it will be streaming live."

The women were part of the university's Engineering Innovation Day, which took place on campus yesterday.

A solar thermal desalination unit was another project at the exhibition. It converts seawater into freshwater through a heating process using solar energy rather than oil or gas.

"Our project has two themes: energy and water," said Ammar Alsheghri, 23, a Syrian student in mechanical engineering.

"They are highly needed internationally and locally, especially in the UAE.

"They use a lot of oil and gas to provide the heat that is required to raise the water's temperature.

"This requires a lot of money and it's not environmentally friendly because it emits a lot of carbon dioxide.

"Our idea is that we have a lot of sun exposure in the Gulf so we can use that exposure to provide this heat for the seawater and save the environment and the cost."

Mohammed Shehada, 24, a Palestinian student in mechanical engineering, built an automatic window-cleaning system that can tackle high-rise buildings without human help.

"We read a lot of articles in the paper that people died when they cleaned windows using ladders or a cradle for skyscrapers," Mohammed said.

"This is a disaster, so we came up with this system and it only uses water, so it's environmentally friendly.

"We have a water tank in the system, so for safety reasons we have no electricity at all because mixing both could be very dangerous.

"Instead, it uses air pressure to activate the components inside it."

Two lifting motors at the top of the building move the system upwards, downwards and sideways.

"Two fans push the system against a wall to keep it attached to the glass," said Mohammed.

The exhibition, a first for the university, included 20 projects with three to five students working on each.

At least half of the projects were considered practical and ready to be deployed.

"Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed [Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces] visited us two weeks ago and he was interested in a few of them, including the solar thermal desalination project," said Dr Hassan Barada, associate dean for undergraduate studies.

"The students financed the projects themselves and it's also great for an engineering college to have 45 per cent female students, especially in the GCC where it's not very common."

cmalek@thenational.ae