Walking on sunshine plan puts Masdar students in global Green City finals

Engineering students from Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute have developed an energy system that could see everyone walking on sunshine – literally.

A team from the Institute has been ranked among Schneider Electric’s top 12 finalists – the first time a Middle East entry has made the finals – out of some 1,183 contestants globally in the sixth edition of Schneider Electric’s annual “Go Green in the City” student competition.

For their entry, the Masdar Institute students Arslan Anjum and Hiba Riaz, both pursuing an MSc in Microsystems Engineering, proposed a concept to utilise solar energy, through heavy-duty glass solar panel installations on pavements and bicycle tracks.

The project would see energy generated through this system fed back into the city grid and leveraged to charge electric cars and provide a sustainable distribution of power. The team was mentored by Fadi Halawi, the tendering team leader for major projects at Schneider Electric, a France-based international energy management and automation specialist.

Sevda Esenturk, the vice president of HR for Arabian Gulf countries and Pakistan at Schneider Electric, praised the pair’s efforts. “We are proud of Masdar Institute’s achievement in this global challenge. This is the first time a participating team from the Middle East has reached the finals – that in itself is a big milestone.

“It also signals that the region’s efforts in diversifying the national economy and building a knowledge-based ecosystem are on the right track. The team’s SolarWay project was developed over several months, and demonstrates much-needed innovation and creativity in the region.”

Congratulating Mr Anjum and Ms Riaz, Abdullah Al Hefeiti, the acting dean of students and the dean of library at Masdar Institute, said: “We are proud of our students who have been selected as finalists for this exciting and challenging competition. Contests like ‘Go Green in the City’ help to highlight the importance of energy management and sustainable urban systems for a sustainable future, which is at the core of Masdar Institute’s objectives.”

Launched in 2011, the Go Green in the City is a platform that invites business and engineering students (second-year undergraduate or higher) to develop innovative energy management ideas for smarter cities.

The submissions for the 2016 edition came from 1,183 teams across 182 countries. The top 100 semi-finalists announced in May included 20 teams (from a total of 102 entries) from the MEA region – including the UAE, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Morroco and Ghana – accounting for the second-largest pool of regional representation in the second round of the competition.

Masdar Institute is competing against student teams from leading universities in Germany, Azerbaijan, China, India, Kenya, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Brazil for the top prize.

“The GCC, and the world at large, urgently require innovative solutions to help us address the energy challenge in a mindful way,” said Benoit Dubarle, the president for Arabian Gulf countries, Pakistan and east Mediterranean at Schneider Electric.

“For our future generations to live in a green ecosystem, we must invest in technology and implement it creatively. The integration of these two factors will help achieve a lasting environmental impact in the years to come.”

The final stage of the competition will be held in Paris from September 19 to 22. The four-day finale will include business workshops, networking events, city tours and the main presentations. The 2016 winners will earn a chance to visit Schneider Electric’s global business hubs and explore opportunities to kick start their careers with the company.


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