x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Student's playground design wins green energy prize

A college student has won the honour of showcasing his classroom project at a high-profile renewable energy conference next year.

DUBAI // A college student has won the honour of showcasing his classroom project at a high-profile renewable energy conference next year. 

Muhammad Ilyas designed a piece of playground equipment that reuses energy, which will be exhibited at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi from January 17 to 20.

Last year, the conference drew 25,000 delegates from 150 countries, including business executives and venture capitalists. 

"Major players will be there," said Bernard Walsh, one of six judges at the student design competition where the project was picked. "They will get exposure to the world market." 

Mr Ilyas, 29, from Pakistan, will receive Dh10,000 to build a working model of his project to display at the summit.

He has only two months to complete the piece in between juggling night classes in interior design at Preston University Ajman and a full-time job at an engineering consultancy.

The opportunity came as a surprise, since it was not the intended prize of the competition, which was held last week at the major interior design exhibition, Index. Eighty students from nine universities, who had come to display their equipment designs, were split into two teams and given four days to combine their projects into two playgrounds. 

Mr Ilyas's team lost. But soon after, the judges - including one who helps to organise the WFES - told Mr Ilyas about his individual win. 

"Every designer dreams of doing some famous designs," Mr Ilyas said. "I am always trying to do things differently." 

The project, named the Flying Jack, features a 7.5m pole with two baskets designed to carry one person each. The baskets rise up the pole when each rider's teammate jumps on a platform on the ground. The faster they jump, the quicker the basket goes up, and the first rider to ring a bell at the top wins. The bell will prompt an LED-lit sign to flash messages such as "Don't smoke" or "Don't waste water". 

The project raised eyebrows from the start, said Mr Ilyas's teacher, Alma Saad Houdifa.

"From the beginning, everyone was making fun of him: people flying? But he was so stubborn and so excited about it," she said. "He has so many great ideas." 

 

chuang@thenational.ae