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Creativity and innovation abound at IBDAA 2017
4/27/2017
Jennifer Muller  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
​A record number of students participated in the 11th annual International Biodiversity Day at AUB (IBDAA), bringing their ingenuity and social entrepreneurship skills to tackle the theme of finding “Sustainable Solutions to Our Environmental Challenges,” focusing on the ecological needs of this region.

Coordinated by the AUB Nature Conservation Center (NCC), IBDAA 2017 brought in over 300 participants from AUB and Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), which took part for the first time this year. Teams of students set up posters around the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, displaying a wide range of ideas for preserving the environment and protecting biodiversity in a fun and interactive atmosphere. 

Projects were grouped into five categories: research; improved energy efficiency and renewable resources; product development; arts and humanities; and business plan. Students from different disciplines participated, with the highest number from engineering but also many other fields such as chemistry, education, English, architecture, interior design, and environmental health.

The ecological leaders of tomorrow

Students manning their poster displays were eager to explain their projects to visitors, faculty members, jurists, and each other. A team of Engineering students from AUB studied different methods to safely restore marine life and coral reefs in Tyre; while a team of Landscape Architecture students came up with a self-guided tour of AUB’s botanical garden for visually-impaired people.

In the product development group, many teams had produced prototypes of their inventions, such as a sensor to detect the amount of particulate matter present in indoor air. One of the teams from NDU presented a novel concept for using recycling machines to dispense credits for Wi-Fi coverage and downloadable e-material, with the option of donating those credits to the financially needy.

Not surprisingly, several projects tackled the issue of waste management from a variety of perspectives, showing that these young people are truly concerned about the environment and are eager to come up with practical solutions to this—and other—problems. 

Rewarding bright ideas

A jury of field specialists toured the array of posters throughout the afternoon of April 27 and awards were then given out to the first- and second-place winners in each of the five categories, with additional third-place winners in two of the categories. The monetary prizes ranged from $500 to $2,000 for winning teams, with the hope that some of these ideas will be developed further and could get implemented, making a real difference in the world.

Awards were given out at Maamari Auditorium in front of an over-capacity crowd, with speeches by NCC director, Dr. Najat Saliba; a representative of sponsor Jammal Trust Bank; and AUB Provost Mohamed Harajli, who spoke about the alignment of IBDAA with AUB’s mission.

“Students participating in this special day develop thinking-outside-the-box skills, and that’s exactly what we are trying to do: Enhance students’ civic engagement activities and teach them to be more responsible citizens,” said Dr. Harajli.

Taking IBDAA to the next level

Looking to the future, the NCC hopes to broaden IBDAA into a nationwide event. This year, other universities in Lebanon were invited to participate in the poster forum as a first step toward much wider participation in the years to come.

“I am proud to see IBDAA, for the 11th year, successfully instill students with the principles for creating solutions to real world social and environmental challenges,” said Professor Najat Saliba. “I am especially happy to see IBDAA expanding to include NDU students as we celebrate Lebanon’s wealth of talent and knowledge in this creative platform.”

The AUB Nature Conservation Center is an interdisciplinary academic research center with a strong component of community engagement and empowerment. The Center aims for people to become the “benefiting guardians of nature,” and raising public awareness about issues such as environmental conservation and sustainability are central to this goal.
Story Highlights
  • ​​​A record number of students participated in the 11th annual International Biodiversity Day at AUB (IBDAA), bringing their ingenuity and social entrepreneurship skills to tackle the theme of finding “Sustainable Solutions to Our Environmental Challenges,” focusing on the ecological needs of this region.​
 
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