Latifa Al-Zahrani

Latifa Al-Zahrani

Journalist

Saudi female innovators break records at the Intel ISEF 2018

On May 18, Saudi female students walked away with a record-breaking performance at Intel ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair), the world’s largest pre-college science competition. Held in Pittsburg, US, this year’s edition marks an unprecedented winning streak for Saudi Arabia, in its 12th time participating in the competition.

Among the top winners, Taala Fahd Abolnaja was awarded third place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Category, for her project titled: “Improving Communication for the Visually Impaired through an Innovative Arabic Writing System” – a project that was also recognized with a special award from the American Psychology Association.

In the Energy: Physical category, Norah Al Amri’s “Innovative Design of Enhanced-Performance Solar Panels Using Heat Pipe and Thermoelectric Generator” came in fourth and, like Abolnaja’s, received a special award, from Carnegie Mellon University. Also landing the fourth spot under the Environmental Engineering category was Razan Ahmad Almusaed’s innovation, titled: “Reducing the Environmental Impact of Organic Dyes in Industrial Wastewater Using Modified Graphene-BiOBr Photocatalysts”.

Abolnaja, Al Amri and Almusaed were joined by male participants in Saudi Arabia’s winning streak this year. In the Plant Sciences category, Faisal Al Dossary walked away with the fourth prize for his work on the creation of plant hormones for agricultural use.

Al Dossary’s project, titled “Creating Two Novel Strigolactone (SL) Analogs (C-13 and C-26) for the Benefits of Combatting Parasitic Seed Infestation”, was also recognized with two special awards from the University of Science and Technology of China.

Hisham Mohammed Al-Mutairi’s work on predicting chemical hazards using deep learning also won third place in the Chemistry category, while Yousif Badr Al Hammadi’s mechanics project, tackling the pre-ignition tendencies of spark-ignited engines, landed the fourth spot in the Engineering Mechanics category.

Joining Al-Hammadi in the same ranking and category was Hassan Alkhunaizi’s project, titled: “Determining the Ignition Characteristics of GCI Blend for Gasoline Compression Ignition Engines Using Chemical Kinetics”.

KSA at Intel ISEF

Saudi Arabia was represented at this year’s Intel ISEF by the King Abdulaziz & his Companions Foundation for Giftedness & Creativity, Mawhiba, and by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education; 17 science projects by 17 students – nine young women, and eight young men – were submitted across science and engineering categories.

Saudi students faced cut-throat international competition at the Intel ISEF 2018, recording an unprecedented winning streak for the Kingdom. They competed among 1,800 contestants from 75 nations across the globe.
 
In its 12 times participating in the global competition, Saudi Arabia’s awards toll at the Intel ISEF today counts 57 awards, among which 36 are Grand, and 18, Special Prizes.

The Kingdom has been taking part of Intel ISEF since 2007, starting off with two prizes in its first time participating, and then, consistently climbing up and competing over top spots in the editions that followed.

Among Saudi Arabia’s 2017 winners at the Intel ISEF were Dana Al Khalidi and Nadia Al-Mutlaq, who were awarded third place, and Sara Al-Rabea, who was awarded fourth place.  Al-Rabea’s materials science project was also recognized with a special award by NASA, and Al-Khalidi’s, with a special award from the Qatar Foundation for her project in increasing the efficiency of water separation in the field of chemical energy. Al Khalidi and Al-Rabea were joined by Roba Al-Salmi, who received a special prize from Mawhiba for her green Nano-technology project in environmental engineering.

Intel ISEF

Intel ISEF is the world's largest international competition for middle and high school students in the field of innovation and scientific research. Held annually in the US each May, the fair draws in young innovators and creators from all over the world who, in their respective fields, compete over prizes worth more than $5 million.

The competition encompasses 17 fields, chief among which are engineering, computer science and sociology. It was established by the American Society for Science & the Public non-profit organization, and started as a local inter-state competition in the US in 1950 before it scaled to global levels. Tech giant Intel has been and will be backing ISEF as its main sponsor until the year 2019.

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