American University of Beirut

A summer to remember: MSFEA Youth Summer Program 2019

​​​​​​​​​For the second consecutive year, the MSFEA organized its Youth Summer Program under the Entrepreneurship Initiative. Entitled “Engineering for Good: Big Data and AI", this year, the program was extended in terms of duration and capacity to span 3 weeks and accommodate 50 males and females between 16 and 18 years of age divided equally between private and public schools.

“The program stems from the faculty's role to raise awareness about engineering and its latest trends for high school students. This program allows the youth to use engineering and technology for the social good while equipping them with the entrepreneurial and innovation mindset that they need for their future" says Mona Itani, the founder of the program and the coordinator of the entrepreneurship initiative. “After the great success of last year's program and based on the participants' feedback, we chose to make this year's program longer and we accommodated the maximum number we could given the allocated resources" she adds.


The program was designed in a way to maximize the exposure of the participants to AUB and the MSFEA and this is why many AUB faculty members from various faculties and departments were invited to give talks related to the theme of Artificial Intelligence, entrepreneurship, and the social good. Moreover, the participants had a labs tour and a facilities tour where they witnessed first-hand the state-of-the art lab equipment and the machines that facilitate the research in the faculty and the operations of the facilities. They even had the privilege to use the Architecture and Design (ArD) Tech Lab to learn about 3D design and printing where they printed a bracelet of their own design and took it as a souvenir from the program.

Hands-on 3D design and printing in ArD Tech lab


“Through this program, I greatly developed many of my soft skills such as confidence and maintaining a strong work ethic... Aside from that, I learned more about entrepreneurship and launching a startup (connecting with others from the same domain and seeking support and mentoring)... I also really sharpened my knife on the AI/Big Data and 3D printing domains due to the various technical courses that were offered. My best part of the program was coming up with our own ideas, and especially being dedicated to them and learning how to make a business model out of them... That really helped us in practicing for our future startups since the invited mentors helped us in seeing the flaws that we couldn't find out by ourselves. I think that the program was very well made and that this was a really good experience for all of us, it surely helped us develop our mindsets, our soft skills and skills in various fields that are very important nowadays..." says Mohamad Chehab, YSP 2019 participant.

In addition to the hard skills, a main learning outcome of the program was to strengthen the teamwork in students and to expose them to the world of entrepreneurship and creativity, “Alongside the technical skills, I learnt the strategy of applying what you learnt and importance of cooperation" says Reem Shehayib. 

“I learnt so many things from this program. First, I learnt how to be creative and how to think of problem in different ways and find solutions for the problem; I learnt the steps to find these solutions. Also, I learnt coding through Python and I learnt 3d printing. In addition, I learnt how to collaborate with partners in groups and how beneficial is the group work. Moreover, I learnt about innovation and AI. Moreover, I learnt about the real mean of entrepreneurship. Besides I learnt that working hard is the key of bright future" - Salwa Jawhar.

“I made a lot of progress in this program. Most importantly, I learned the importance and value of teamwork, I learned how to become a better team player, and I acquired new leadership skills in addition to gaining more self-confidence. Moreover, I learned to have an insight about the future and to think creatively in order to solve critical problems in an effective, practical, and simple way" - Rayane Bader

After conducting a survey to evaluate the program, 91% of the participants said they were more encouraged to pursue engineering after the program and half of them said they wanted to continue working on their projects after the program was over.


Robotics and Virtual Reality Lab Visit


“Thank you for the best experience and all the things we've learned throughout the past 3 weeks. You're making a huge impact in Lebanon. MSFEA you're the best" says Jana Sabra, a public school student who has been in the Youth Summer Program for 2 consecutive years and recently accepted as a full USAID scholarship student to AUB.

“You are the BEST. I just like to note that I'm a Palestinian girl who lives in one of the camps and it is not that easy to afford participating in such programs, but this program was soooo advanced and it was somehow free! The point is that not being able to participate in such programs doesn't mean that we can't do it, actually we just need a chance to flourish... So please try to work on more and more programs like this, because it can change the life of somebody in an extravagant way." - Hiba Al Shami

Based on the first edition experience, and after the organizers saw the impact of the program on the students who have helped put it together, they chose to involve more students this year in the program with special emphasis on graduate students given the training topics which revolved around big data and AI.

“I am very proud that I had the chance to coordinate this program within AUB and MSFEA! As a graduate engineering student, I spend most of my time at AUB between classes and working on research. This was a totally new experience for me and other graduate students that has enhanced our leadership and communication skills. Working with the creative and passionate youth in the program added flavor and life to our technical knowledge. Handling this responsibility was empowering and very rewarding especially after seeing the impact of this initiative on students, who have presented their work on stage with all confidence, and how much they gained knowledge in advanced topics like Big Data and Artificial Intelligence" said Alaa Maarouf, ECE Masters student in Artificial Intelligence, who took the task of coordinating the YSP 2019 program.

Alaa Maarouf presenting the teams on the final pitch day


“I had the honor to be the Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing instructor of such bright minds. I also mentored two amazing teams, one of which won the final competition! These students recharged my motivation, and I learnt a lot from them. Such mesmerizing brains! All I can say is that the future is bright and promising!" wrote Obeida El Jundi, ECE Masters student in Natural Language Processing in a Facebook post after the program was over.

Twelve teams pitched their entrepreneurial ideas where they have applied all what they have learned on the technical and non-technical levels during the three weeks of the programs. All ideas clearly targeted one or more goals from the UN 2030 agenda and have used big data or AI to develop their solution. All teams were successful in developing a prototype with the help of their technical mentors, who are all ECE Masters and PhD students, and demoed those prototypes in front of the jury. In addition to the coordinator of the entrepreneurship initiative, the jury consisted of Dr. Ayman Kayssi, Associate Dean of the MSFEA, Ms. Stephanie Abi Abdallah, Programs Director at BDD and Mr. Amer Tabsh, Producer at Future TV. All jury members have agreed on the amazing work of the young participants and on their innovative ideas and spirit of changemaking. The first place winner was “No Deafference" a mobile app that uses computer vision to instantly translate sign language used by the deaf to normal text thus facilitating the communication between the deaf and non-deaf people who do not know sign language. The second place winner was “EARL" an AI engine that is used to aid lawyers and judges to know if someone has broken a specific law according to the case in consideration.

For more photos, check the Youth Summer Programs Facebook page.

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