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AUS student research wins top honors at Global Undergraduate Awards 2020
For the second year in a row, student research from American University of Sharjah (AUS) has won top honors in the architecture and design category of the Global Undergraduate Awards. In the 2020 edition of the awards, AUS students have also received four regional awards in computer engineering, linguistics, politics and international relations, and visual arts, and have been recognized for eight highly recommended entries in the world’s leading academic awards program that celebrates top undergraduate work done around the globe.
Aishwarya Sriram, an AUS architecture graduate, won the architecture and design award for her project “Bee-Ball Deathtrap,” which is an exploration of a predator-prey relationship prevalent in the natural world—inspired by a moment of attack between the predator (the giant hornet) and the prey (the Japanese honeybee). Sriram produced the winning project under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Gregory Spaw in her fourth-year architecture studio at the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD). The studio was sponsored by Sharjah-based Arada Developments LLC.
“I chose this project because I felt it is one of my most honest design explorations during my undergraduate studies. The intersection between design and architecture with the natural world made it an abstract yet compelling subject matter to discuss. I explored the interaction of the two species in two- and three-dimensional drawings and models. Each of the elements involved in this story was codified and given a particular profile in 3D models, which helped simulate the entire attack as if it were frozen in time,” Sriram said.
“The most significant outcome of this project is that it is entirely based on an abstract phenomenon from the natural world, which is one of the most stimulating and compelling avenues for design inspiration. The project, while not biomimetic in nature, recognizes that if almost all-natural processes are stripped down to the basics and are looked at in absolutes, a diverse range of information can be derived to sustain a particular design intention,” she said.
Currently seeking professional opportunities to further her career with plans to pursue her graduate degree in architecture, Sriram said applying for the Global Undergraduate Awards seemed like a “fitting end to five rewarding years at AUS, and an opportunity to represent AUS.”
A total of nine AUS students from the university’s College of Engineering (CEN), College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and CAAD received awards in the regional category for projects that encompassed a wide variety of topics.
An AUS computer science team won a regional award for utilizing deep learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop a system that helps label camera traps used to capture images of animals in the wild. The team, which comprised computer engineering alumni Ali Reza Sajun, Lana Alhaj Hussein, Dara Sakhnini, and student Brylle Ryan Gomez, worked with Emirates Nature-WWF, which provided them with guidance and data throughout the process. In order to capture images of animals, ecologists place camera traps in the wild for months; this is followed by a tedious and time-consuming process where thousands of images are manually analyzed. To speed up this process, the AUS team developed a system that instantly labels an image as soon as it is captured by a camera trap and sends a notification to the ecologist’s mobile application detailing the type of animal, the time image was taken, and the location.
Other regional winners from AUS included English major Aya Sallam and mass communication alumna Suzana Osama from the College of Arts and Sciences, and architecture alumni Samrakshana Suresh and Dhruva Lakshminarayanan from CAAD.
The winning students honored their AUS professors who mentored and encouraged them to submit their work for consideration for the awards. Supervising faculty included Professor George Katodrytis and Dr. John Montague from CAAD, Dr. Ji Shim and Dr. Sherri Weiler from CAS, and Dr. Imran Zualkernan and Dr Salam Dhou from CEN, along with Dr. Jacky Judas from Emirates Nature-WWF.
A number of CAAD students were also recognized with highly commended awards, including Shifa Aaquil, Gheed Ashoor, Nohair Elmessalami (with Sondos Al Sibai), Malak Hawamdeh, Mariama M.M. Kah, Arian Saghafifar and Habibah Salman.
The Global Undergraduate Awards are the latest recognition garnered by the university for the high-quality research work conducted by its students. Founded in 2008 in Dublin, Ireland, the awards recognize top undergraduate work and share this work with a global audience, connecting the world’s brightest students and graduates across cultures and disciplines.