In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the MSFEA reached out to prospective high school students to offer a Youth Innovation Program entitled “Engineering for Good" in Summer 2018. Leveraging its student and alumni network to disseminate the message, more than 200 interested youths applied from schools in Lebanon and beyond. Through a careful selection process due to capacity constraints, 32 diverse students were selected to join the 2-week program which took place on July 16 – 27, 2018. Equal gender representation and socio-economic diversity including equal public-school representation were prioritized.
In an intensive program of 60+ hours, participating students aged 15-18, learned about social innovation and more specifically how to use the Internet of Things (IoT) to solve aspects of the pollution problem in Lebanon. The program incorporated design thinking workshops, an AUB campus tour, MSFEA labs tour, technical talks from MSFEA faculty, business planning and pitching sessions in addition to hands-on technical workshops. The students were subject to intensive workshops on IoT in the state-of-the art MSFEA labs where undergraduate and graduate students served as their instructors and taught them to create IoT solutions using Raspberry Pi and Python. Students built their prototypes and were guided by technical and business mentors who helped them better formulate their final ideas.
At the end of the program, 8 teams of 4 pitched their final solutions and demoed their prototypes in front of an esteemed jury panel from the social entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Lebanon. Two teams, iLight and Sensio Cycle won the first and the second places, respectively, where each member of the winning teams took home an IoT kit to continue learning, exploring and working on their projects. iLight tackled the problem of wasted energy at night by eliminating the need for having a continuous lighting of street lights and replacing it with a sensor-enabled system that would work only when there is motion of people/cars. Sensio Cycle tackled the recycling problem in Lebanon which has collection as a big constraint due to the high logistics costs. Through installing sensors in recycling bins that would determine the best time to collect the recyclable material, the team solicited the interest of one of the biggest recycling organizations in Lebanon and are working to make the recycling process more efficient and convenient to both the households and recyclers. The first winning team iLight was also one of the winners (and the youngest team) in the Startup Weekend Competition which took place at AUB in September 2018.
In 2019, the MSFEA plans to repeat this successful experience and target more students and offer them a longer-duration program to expose them to more diverse subjects in engineering, including 3D printing, product design, etc.
Goals of the MSFEA Youth Program:
- Assuming a leadership role in raising awareness about engineering and the emerging trends for high-school students
- Recruitment of students and identification of exemplary talents (including females and public school students)
- Fostering the innovation and entrepreneurship mindset early on and playing a role in that paradigm shift
- Fulfilling a social role by orienting the youth to use technology and engineering for the social good