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UOWD teams grab top honours at Microsoft Imagine Cup UAE finals

Thursday, 26 April, 2012

UOWD team’s ‘Reutilizer’ project on bio-fuels qualifies for the worldwide finals

Two teams from the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) won the first and third positions in the UAE Finals of Microsoft's premier technology competition, Imagine Cup 2012. Considered the world's premiere technology competition, Imagine Cup encourages students to use their imagination to create innovative technology solutions that can help address some of the world's toughest issues.

Shawn Frank and Ronak Dave of the UOWD alumni team, entitled Team Revolution won the first prize for their project: 'Reutilizar' tackling the issue of waste management and bio-fuels. The project was selected based on the team's innovative use of technology to solve one of the key issues the world is facing today; managing waste in a sustainable manner.

Team Revolution's 'Reutilizer' project featured a mobile application and website which can be used by individuals to tackle waste management and bio-fuels. The website can be used by small restaurants to avoid waste and uses a mapping algorithm which groups nearby individuals and stores in order to optimize pickups and make routes more efficient. The project will help restaurants and manufacturers to get paid for selling food waste to bio fuel plants for the creation of energy. These bio-fuels can be derived from carbon compounds like algae and kitchen waste like fruit skins, coffee beans and used cooking oil.

“Our project makes use of web and mobile based platforms to transfer bio-fuel-rich materials to bio-fuel plants. Our project involves collecting bio-fuel rich material from people and organisations and compensating them with points or cash for their efforts. Users can also report bio-fuel rich sites using their mobile phone and we can mark off a bio-fuel hotspot if many users report similar areas. We made use of cloud computing to connect all our entities together,” explained Shawn.

The first place winning team of Shawn and Ronak has advanced to the Imagine Cup worldwide finals which will be held in Sydney, Australia in July 2012.

The third place was also won by UOWD team made up of Asif Rashid and Khalid Al-Najjar, for their project ‘Sparkka’, an intelligent web application that answers medical queries and dispenses verified and localized medical advice to patients and seekers of medical advice on multiple platforms via the internet. Using raw text parsing and its growing statistical database, it is able to provide 'smart' answers for every query. Furthermore, it facilitates the creation of appointments with general practitioners and specialists which are closest to the user by determining his location.

“It is a matter of great pride for the University of Wollongong in Dubai to be recognized for the high competence of its students through this project in this prestigious inter-university competition,” said Dr. Mohamed Salem, dean, Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering, UOWD. “The Microsoft Imagine Cup offers tough competition from UAE’s top universities and we are proud that this is the third time that UOWD was selected for the finals.”

Now in its tenth year, Microsoft's Imagine Cup invited students across the UAE and Gulf to "imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today." The competition was open to students between the age of 16 years and 26 years, empowering them to use their creative and technical abilities to make a positive impact on society.

The five projects shortlisted were submitted by teams from universities and schools across the country, including the University of Wollongong in Dubai, the American University of Sharjah, the Birla Institute of Technology & Science Pilani - Dubai Campus and the International School of Choueifat, Dubai. Using their creativity, the students developed ideas to address the Imagine Cup 2012 theme: 'Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems,' and were given the opportunity to present their projects to a panel of judges including industry veterans from du, Wamda, ASUS Middle East and Emirates Group.

"We are impressed with the entries received thus far for the Imagine Cup competition in the UAE," said Samer Abu-Ltaif, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf. "The notion of making the world a better place is at the heart of Imagine Cup and it provides a platform for the brightest young minds across UAE to express their creativity and passion for technology by coming up with new solutions for the challenges we face today in the world. The teams have exhibited tremendous passion and innovation and I wish them the very best for the future. Our focus on Imagine Cup reflects Microsoft's continued commitment in supporting young talent to drive future prosperity in the UAE."

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