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Apps to Locate Missing Refugees and Tackle Counterfeit Medicine Win NYU Abu Dhabi’s International Hackathon

Dawa, an application designed to tackle counterfeit medicine in the region using blockchain based pharmaceutical distribution, and Boosala, a refugee location application, have won top honors at NYU Abu Dhabi’s 8th Annual International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World.

Dawa was designed by a team of eight students who were mentored by Cloud Developer Advocate IBM Saif ur Rehman, Technology Solution Professional at Microsoft Saeed Motamed, and IBM Cloud Developer Naiyarah Hussain. The students represented universities from across the region, including NYU Abu Dhabi, University of Wollongong in Dubai, BITS Pilani Dubai Campus, and M’sila University, Al Akhawayn University and Misr International University from Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt respectively.

The team behind Boosala, designed to locate missing family members and contacts among refugees, comprised seven team members led by mentors including Cloud Developer Advocate at IBMNikita Mathur, Executive Director at OpenCurriculum Varun Arora, and CEO at Kandw Technologies International Khalid Machchate. Universities represented through Boosala included NYU Abu Dhabi and Khalifa University, as well as other universities in the region such as ESPRIT, University of Science and Technology Houari, and American universities NYU and Wellesley College.

The event was organized by Founder and Chair of the NYUAD Hackathon, Clinical Professor of Computer Science at NYU New York and Affiliated Faculty at NYUAD Sana Odeh. Commenting on the occasion, Odeh said, “This Hackathon has offered yet another round of outstanding ideas and solutions that reflect the spirit of innovation shown across all the teams that participated, which made the final decisions for the judges especially challenging this year. Each team has grown remarkably over the course of these intensive three days, learning, and gaining expert knowledge.”

“NYUAD Hackathon is designed to encourage and secure an opportunity for cross-collaboration and entrepreneurship across computer science, bringing together people from all over the world with different ideas in order to expand the scope of understanding amongst participating students. This experience allows them to grow and learn through exposure to new concepts that act as an incubator for remarkable feats of innovation,” she added.

The second prize went to Huwayeti, a blockchain-based layer on top of UNHCR refugee registration to manage trusted agents’ claims made about refugees. The team was mentored by CEO of Sahem.ae Hussam Mohsineh and Software Engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Improbable Keeley Erhardt. Four of the six members of this were from NYU Abu Dhabi, while the additional team members came from Yale University and the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.

Third place was offered to the team responsible for devising a platform that assists refugees and asylum seekers in communicating with healthcare professionals using machine learning and natural language processing called MedLughati. Mentored by NYUAD alumna and current Rhodes Scholar pursuing a PHD at University of Oxford Farah Shamout and Software Engineer at Facebook UK Miguel Sanchez, the students behind MedLughati represented a wide range of institutions including University of Wollongong, BITS Pilani Dubai Campus, Stanford University, University of Oxford, University of Buenos Aires and Khalifa University in Egypt.

Aspiring hackers from across the globe came together at NYU Abu Dhabi from April 27 for the three-day event. Participants were divided into 10 teams and mentored by renowned international computer science professors, founders of successful startups, technology professionals, and venture capitalists.

The Audience Award for the occasion was given to Wadhafni, an SMS-based mobile app that links unemployed skilled individuals with the local labor market on a tasks-accomplishment basis. The team, comprised of students representing prestigious institutions such as the University of Edinburgh, NYU Shanghai, Middlesex University Dubai, ENSAM Casablanca and NYU Abu Dhabi, was mentored by Software Engineer at Think.iT Abir Chermiti, and Software Engineer at Google Fabricio Pontes Harsich.

For additional information on the 2018 Annual NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World, visit http://sites.nyuad.nyu.edu/hackathon/

This post comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi. You can read the original here.

Commencement across the world!

It is the time for celebrating graduating students across NYU’s global network. The All-University Commencement Exercises will take place on Wednesday, May 16 at Yankee Stadium in New York. 

 

 

 

 

NYU Abu Dhabi’s 5th Commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 20 at its campus on Saadiyat Island.

 

 

 

 

 

NYU Shanghai’s second Commencement ceremony will take place on Wednesday, May 23 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

NYU Abu Dhabi Professor Sophia Kalantzakos Discusses the Art of Conversation on Climate

The first humans began to walk the Earth only 300,000 years ago, yet we have impacted it in such a way that today we have entered a new era that scientists have aptly named the Anthropocene. In this epoch, humans are recognized as the main drivers of ecological change.

“If we accept that humanity is the strongest and most transformative force on Earth, we also must take responsibility for the repercussions of our actions,” said Global Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Public Policy Sophia Kalantzakos, who leads the Arts and Humanities Environmental Research Initiative (eARThumanities) at NYU Abu Dhabi.

It’s not that people don’t believe human activity affects climate. We understand it intellectually, Kalantzakos said, but additional data demonstrating this fact won’t necessarily encourage people to behave in a way that is more ecologically conscious. This is where the arts and humanities can add to the conversation.

“The arts and humanities have always created stories of the future that help us understand or process it better,” she said.

“We can’t do one thing and not another”

And though addressing climate change is an enormous challenge that will require transformations in policy at the global and local levels, it’s a challenge that should be addressed holistically.

“We tend to have checklists of things we need to do, like increase the use of renewable energy, or conserve water,” she said. “But we simply can’t do one thing and not another. The eARThumanities initiative is saying that there is a wider story out there and we must connect the dots.”

The eARThumanities showcases the contributions the arts and humanities bring to the global conversation about the environment, bringing in their own unique lens to the challenges of the Anthropocene, ranging from climate action theater, a studio art class that focuses on wood and trees in relation to the rise and fall of civilizations, and discourses on extinction.

“From this vantage point at this institution, we’re able to have a much more complete conversation,” she added. “It’s not American centric; it’s not Eurocentric. And it creates exceptional opportunities to understand why different perspectives matter.”

 

This post comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi, the original can be found here.

Promoting Entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi – startAD and Etihad Airways Partner to Develop Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

A new strategic partnership will focus on growing entrepreneurship initiatives across the UAE. Etihad Airways and NYU Abu Dhabi-based innovation and entrepreneurship platform startAD have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the UAE through the exchange of knowledge, expertise and training.

The agreement was signed by Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, and Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director of startAD and Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi, in a ceremony held at the Etihad Headquarters.

Through the Venture Launchpad, startAD will provide Etihad Airways early access to high calibre startups in the key focus areas of the airline. The startAD Venture Launchpad program is able to identify early stage technology startups and help them to develop a scalable, repeatable and capital efficient business model that culminates in an investor day where finalists pitch their ventures to investors. Startups can apply to the program by visiting vl.startad.ae.

Mr Jagannathan said: “As Abu Dhabi and the UAE embark on the momentous journey of transforming the region into a global entrepreneurial economic powerhouse, startAD is committed to help in building the national innovation capacity.  Through this partnership, Etihad and startAD will further strengthen the UAE innovation ecosystem and accelerate global innovation in aviation.”

As a result of this partnership, Etihad Airways will offer domain knowledge and expertise on matters of aviation, big data, logistics, and cargo transportation to startups enrolled with startAD, disrupting the legacy approach in aviation and related domains.  Experts from Etihad will mentor startup teams at the Venture Launchpad program, Beyond the Pitch program and startAD ADvance.

Mr Baumgartner said: “Etihad is committed to driving innovation. It is part of our DNA, our brand and our customer promise. We are also ultimately committed to foster innovation in partnership – creating an innovation ecosystem with Abu Dhabi and UAE entities.

“startAD is an ideal platform for us to plug into to get access to inspiration and capability, a platform that allows us to make sure projects are carried through to something that creates innovation and intellectual property as competitive advantage for the airline, for Abu Dhabi and for all stakeholders. It’s about acting as a catalyst for how Abu Dhabi Inc. should come together with its stakeholders and institutions to jointly create innovation that strongly supports the destination’s masterplan.”

The MoU is set to further develop the local entrepreneurship ecosystem by encouraging mutual access to training initiatives between the two organisations. startAD will provide access to entrepreneurship skills development to mentors and advisors from Etihad Airways.

Startups that align with the airline’s areas of focus will also be provided with the opportunity to connect with Etihad Airways’ comprehensive network of professionals, firms and partner institutions, while innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives by Etihad Airways will receive consultation on design and organisation from startup professionals at startAD, including the provision of hackathons, festivals, panel discussions, and conferences for entrepreneurship.

 

This post comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi, the original can be found here.

NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery’s Spring Show to Examine Impermanence and Displacement

Opening on February 24th, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery’s spring 2018 exhibition will be Permanent Temporariness, a mid-career retrospective of the renowned, award-winning artist duo Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti. The duo are co-directors of DAAR, an architectural studio and artistic residency program that combines conceptual speculations and architectural interventions, and founders of Campus in Camps, an experimental educational program in Palestinian refugee Camps.  Their practice moves between art, architecture and pedagogy., often operating outside the typical art exhibition venue format. This is the first survey of their work in a museum/gallery context.

Petti and Hilal’s body of work explores how our experience is shaped by our understanding of “permanence” or “impermanence” in our environment. Their installations bridge architecture and art, examine the social, economic and political consequence of exile and displacement, and delve into public and private impermanent spaces. Visitors can look forward to large-scale installations and other works of different mediums displayed both inside the Art Gallery and outdoors around the NYU Abu Dhabi campus.

Petti and Hilal’s projects have been exhibited at multiple biennials, include Venice, Istanbul, São Paulo, and Marrakesh, and at several museums around the world including the Centre Pompidou and Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art. Their artistic practice has received multiple awards and grants, including the most recent Keith Haring Fellow in Art and Activism Award from the Center for Curatorial Studies and the Human Rights Project at Bard,  the Loeb Fellowship Harvard University, the Prince Claus Prize for Architecture, Foundation for Art Initiatives grant, and shortlisted for the Visible Award, the Curry Stone Design Prize, the New School’s Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, the Anni and Heinrich Sussmann Artist Award, and the Chrnikov Prize.

Permanent Temporariness is guest-curated by NYUAD Associate Professor Salwa Mikdadi, who is among the foremost historians of modern art from the Arab world. It is co-curated by Bana Kattan, NYUAD Art Gallery Curator, who recently co-curated the popular Invisible Threads exhibition (NYUAD).

Two of the artworks to be featured are completely new, conceived for this show. “Living Room” is a performance piece which lays bare the uncertainties that arise when navigating the customs of another culture. “Refugee Heritage” is an installation of a series of lightbox-mounted photographs taken by an official UNESCO photographer at the world’s oldest refugee camp, Dheisheh camp in Bethlehem. “Refugee Heritage” explores the dichotomy of a place that was meant to be temporary, eventually demolished and forgotten, but instead has remained for decades and has become the only home that generations of some families have ever known.

Previously shown works include “The Concrete Tent”, which also deals with this paradox of permanent temporariness. Solidifying the shape of a mobile tent into a concrete house, the resultant structure is a hybrid representation of this temporariness and permanence, softness and hardness, movement and stillness.

Co-Curator Bana Kattan, Curator at the NYUAD Art Gallery said, “After years of ongoing research and preparation, we are thrilled to have Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti with us for their first ever large-scale, meditative retrospective. Permanent Temporariness connects our physical world (geographically and architecturally) to both historical and current events, as Petti and Hilal’s works embrace such topics as modern geopolitics and the plight of refugees. The Art Gallery strives to present shows that are both locally relevant and internationally significant, and this subject matter is particularly resonant now.”

Salwa Mikdadi, Co-Curator and NYUAD Associate Professor of Art History, commented, “In Permanent Temporariness, Hilal and Petti present conceptual speculations that examine the state of impermanence and ‘refugee-ness’ beyond victimhood and beyond charitable gestures, offering the audience new ways of engaging with this critical and timely topic. I am delighted to be working with them again having presented their artwork at the Venice Biennial almost a decade ago.”

There will also be a full public program of events and talks for all ages, taking place throughout the exhibition. More information will be available closer to the time of opening.

NYU Abu Dhabi Students Develop Cost-effective Solution to Food Contamination Problems

Team iGem from NYU Abu Dhabi who won a gold medal at a competition in Boston for their cost-effective solution to detect E. coli.

By Ibrahim Chehade, NYU Abu Dhabi Biology Instructor

NYU Abu Dhabi’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team has received the university’s first gold medal at the Giant Jamboree held in Boston, US. The Giant Jamboree is a synthetic biology competition that hosts student academic scholars from 310 international teams.

The NYUAD team of 12 biology and engineering students were led by seniors Adrienne Chang and Khairunnisa Semesta, supervised by faculty members and instructors, Dr. Kourosh Salehi-Ashtiani, Dr. Yong-Ak Song, Dr. Mazin Magzoub, Ibrahim Chehade, Ashley Isaac, and Mona Kalmouni.

The project, E. coLAMP, was concerned with the development of a portable and affordable device that is capable of amplifying a genetic marker of the Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli in just 20 minutes using a technique called loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). The engineering team designed and printed a robust, 3D-printed case, which houses the electrical components and the silicone chip for the biological reactions.

The intended usage of the device provides a simple procedure for the end user. A food sample is swabbed and added to a solution, and the solution is transferred into the silicone chip. The chip can then be placed on the heating base of the device, and the reaction can be easily visualized after 20 minutes. The team was successful in developing a proof-of-concept, which cut down the cost of each reaction to only $4 USD. The result: a cost-effective solution to rampant food contamination in various parts of the world.

3D rendering of a portable device that can detect E. coli in 20 minutes, developed by a team of students at NYU Abu Dhabi.

In the development of E.coLAMP, the team employed a comprehensive design-build-test cycle, integrating feedback from potential users into the design of the device to better meet users’ needs. In the spirit of community service, the NYUAD team also conducted extensive education and engagement programs by inviting 20 Brighton College high school students to NYUAD’s first annual synthetic biology workshop. An outreach program was also conducted in Indonesia to primary school students on food safety and hygienic practices.

Being the only team from the United Arab Emirates, the team hopes to encourage and share their experience with other GCC institutions to help them launch their own iGEM teams in the future. By doing so, they aim to promote the value and importance of interdisciplinary studies in the development of a successful project.

The team offers their gratitude to the Division of Science and the Division of Engineering, as well as the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology for their generous support that helped this program to become a success.

This post comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi and you can find the original here.

Internship Mixes Computer Science and Economics to Help Boost Development in Ghana

Students from around the NYU global network get a unique opportunity each year to participate in an internship in Kumawu, a small town in Ghana, where they work with the local population on technology to help improve their lives and livelihoods. The internship is organized by the Center for Technology and Economic Development (CTED) at NYU Abu Dhabi.

NYU Abu Dhabi’s First Airline Cargo Logistics Course Really Takes Off

NYU Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo partnership a “win-win”

There’s a flurry of activity behind the large glass doors of the Madrid meeting room in Etihad Cargo’s head office in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City. The bright afternoon light streams in through large picture windows as students from New York University’s degree-granting campuses — eight from NYU Abu Dhabi, three from NYU Shanghai, and one from NYU New York— prepare to present interactive applications and product prototypes to senior Etihad Cargo officials.

A mechanical whir occasionally punctures the chatter in the room as a small, box-shaped robot with Etihad Cargo emblazoned across the top in gold letters moves across white tables in the center of the room.

Etihad’s David Kerr, senior vice president of cargo, and Robert Fordree, head of cargo handling, are ready to see the student’s protoypes for the first time:

  • Cargie: a load-carrying robot capable of machine learning;
  • Paper Trail: an app to track airway bills and cargo documents (the industry still relies heavily on paper);
  • Viz360: a virtual training app; and
  • HoloCargo, a 3D-scanning and virtual reality system that can help loadmasters build pallets of boxes in a 3D environment.

The prototypes are the end result of an intensive four-week summer course taught at NYU Abu Dhabi by Christian Grewell, adjunct assistant arts professor of interactive media arts at NYU Shanghai.

Students enrolled in the Driving Genius course are taught the ins and outs of robotics, programming, and design principles, combined with the technical know-how needed to develop products that cater specifically to the airline cargo industry, which is where Etihad Cargo stepped in as a course partner. The students get to use augmented reality, virtual reality, and sensory technology and also learn how be entrepreneurs, drawing up successful business plans for their products.

“It’s about establishing a partnership where students gain everything they would from a traditional course including the opportunity to test their models in the real-world ‘laboratory’ of the organization,” Grewell said about partnering with Etihad Cargo. “When Etihad engaged with us, they engaged across every function of their business and at various levels in the organization. We came up with ideas for people not just in executive positions, but in-line level operational roles. That’s an invaluable experience for students when combined with the work we do in the lab and classroom.”

Learning on the Fly

Students were given access to Etihad Cargo’s warehouse operations so they could understand how things work and identify processes where efficiencies could potentially be improved. They were then split into three groups and tasked with designing and developing feasible tailor-made solutions using virtual technology.

With augmented reality and virtual reality technology becoming more affordable and accessible, students in the course are also taught to manage expectations — their own and the client’s — to figure out what works best for a company’s business model.

Back in the Etihad Cargo meeting room, Grewell observes as the groups demonstrate their prototypes, occasionally chiming in with words of encouragement or offering bits of trivia.

“They’ve worked really hard on these presentations and the quality of their work is outstanding,” he said. “Generally students have all these great ideas and prototypes but they struggle when it comes to presenting.”

There’s no visible hint of a struggle or even nervousness as the students confidently field questions from Kerr and Fordree about their work prompting the senior vice president, at one point, to remark that their insights were spot on and that “the (cargo) industry is pretty underinvested in technology. I like to think that in the future, we’re not an airline business but a technology company with airplanes and warehouses et cetera.”

A final round of applause brings the presentations to a close and the students heave a sigh of relief as everyone shuffles out of the meeting room. It’s been an intense few weeks but Grewell emphasizes the need for a course like this as a bridge between classroom learning and meeting real-world corporate expectations.

“I think this is a win-win for all parties when educators, students and organizations come together,” he concluded.

By Deepthi Unnikrishnan, NYUAD Public Affairs; This piece comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi’s Salaam blog and is available here.

Groundbreaking Research on Drug Delivery to Cancer Cells at NYU Abu Dhabi

A new nanoparticle developed by scientists of the Trabolsi Research Group at NYU Abu Dhabi could change the future of how drug delivery systems are used in the treatment of cancer.

Nanoparticles are tiny microscopic particles that have diverse applications in various fields such as physics, chemistry, optics, and medical science while drug delivery systems are a breakthrough approach in biomedical engineering that enables doctors to direct highly potent drugs to specific disease-infected sites in the human body.

Research scientist Farah Benyettou collaborated with Ali Trabolsi, assistant professor of chemistry at NYU Abu Dhabi and head of the Trabolsi Research Group, to create a magnetic nanoparticle that can carry the chemotherapy drug Doxorubicin and can be guided straight to tumour sites.

“What we are trying to do is to use existing therapies like chemotherapy and thermal therapy but in a new way. The idea is to fight cancer at the same level that it develops in,” said Trabolsi.

Anticancer drugs have to be administered in high doses to make sure that the required dose reaches the tumour but these drugs also attack healthy cells because they can’t differentiate between them. This causes severe side effects. Drug delivery systems are safer alternatives. They even provide the option of controlling the amount of drug released at any given time while enhancing its absorption. This results in administration of lower doses.

Benyettou’s magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles act like special vehicles that ferry the drug straight to the tumour and can be directed using magnets. When exposed to alternating magnetic fields, they absorb the energy and increase the temperature of the tumour thereby killing them using a combination of chemotherapy and thermal therapy. They can even be observed using an MRI.

These nanoparticles are also designed to release the drugs only in a particular environment — the more acidic environment of tumour cells — which means that they are harmless to healthy cells and are also eliminated naturally from the body once their job is done. The Trabolsi group has also employed a structure where several nanoparticles cluster together to create a porous ‘super’ nanoparticle that can ferry more medicine.

Cancer cells evolve to resist the very drugs that treat it. When these drugs try to diffuse into the drug-resistant cell one by one, which is how they usually gain entry, it triggers an ‘alarm’ and is denied entry. In vitro tests have shown that these magnetic nanoparticles are effective against doxorubicin-resistant cancer cell lines because they use a different method to enter these cells thereby cheating them into thinking that they are harmless.

“This is how these nanoparticles work so effectively against cancer cells. Almost like a Trojan horse,” explained Benyettou.

For Trabolsi, all of these properties combined with its affordability and “how relatively easy they are to prepare under 30 minutes” is evidence that they could change the way cancer treatment is approached.

This research was made possible by two grants awarded by the Al Jalila Foundation to the Trabolsi Research Group. Papers detailing the properties of this class of nanoparticles were recently published by Chemistry – A European Journal, and RSC Advances.

This post comes to us from NYU Abu Dhabi and was originally posted here.

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