Despite a train conductor strike that paralyzed Egypt’s railways
in mid-April, the engineering Faculty at Minya University pushed
ahead with the second Innovation Day competition and exhibition on
April 9th. Bringing students to Minya from all around Egypt, the
two day event hosted 50 graduation projects that competed in
building technical and engineering solutions to some of Egypt's
most pressing problems.
Although some competitors from Al Azhar and Alexandria Universities couldn’t attend due to the strike, all of the projects competed in three exhibitions: an exhibition for university students, a “Crazy Idea” exhibition for high school students, and a “Line Followers” exhibition for robotics, under the patronage and support of the Egyptian Engineers Syndicate.
Entrepreneurs and experts from Cairo, including Hani Gamal, software development consultant at Planet 360, Mohamad Youssef, founder of VLSI Egypt, Amr Abdel Rahman, executive director of MIMV and Ahmed Rabih, executive director of Mobipreneur, offered their support and mentorship.
During mentorship sessions, Youssef emphasized the importance of specialization and finding your niche, while noting the difficulties for technical startups in finding talented employees and engineers. Gamal advised students not to make their studies a hurdle to their creativity, adding a dose of reality: “These graduation projects are different from establishing a commercial startup capable of achieving sustainability and profitability.”
The jury included university faculty members in the electrical, information technology, mechatronics, mechanics, automotive, computer engineering, and communication departments.
The winning projects for the university student competition are:
- First place in Computer Engineering: "Smart Elevator" uses a camera to recognize the faces of waiting individuals and then brings a specific elevator to the right type of user (teacher, student, etc.) to make the process more efficient.
- First place in Information Technology: “Smart School” controls the entry and exit of students from the school, as their individual identity cards trigger cameras to follow students inside the school.
- First place in Mechanics: “Packing machine” packs grain using electromagnetic energy instead of kinetic energy.
- First place in the Electrical category: “Shams Dual Tracker” is a solar panel that allows users to save money on current energy costs.
- First place in Mechatronics: “Infinite Energy” attempts to exploit the earth's magnetic field to generate an eco-friendly source of electrical power.
The Governor of Minya attended the closing ceremony and awarded
10,000 Egyptian pounds (around US $2000), which was divided equally
among the winning teams.
The winners of the “Crazy Idea” competition for high schools students are:
- “Nour”, created by Nouran Mohamed and Abdallah Issam, an all-Arabic operating system for a computer.
- Abdel Rahman Salama designed a garbage bin that automatically tells you when it’s full.
- A solar cells capacity modifier, by Nada Youssef, that would maximize the amount of solar power transformed into electricity.
Taking Control of Their Future
Despite the enthusiasm of students and participants throughout the event, and the many patriotic anthems related to the Egyptian revolution, students expressed their dismay over the challenges they face finding work upon graduation. On top of that, they feel unprepared for the jobs that are available. But they seemed to be determined to resist this sad reality and innovate anyway.
As a sign of their resistance, students from the automotive engineering department of the IEEE Minya University expressed their intentions to build a one-seat racecar to compete in the Formula Student Competition next year, in collaboration with the Helwan University students that competed in 2010.