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AUS student wins first Nokia University App Challenge
An engineering student from American University of Sharjah (AUS) won the top prize at the first Nokia University App Challenge with a mobile application that helps users find restaurants across the UAE. The award ceremony was held on May 27 at Burj Khalifa's Armani Ballroom.
Nabeel Kassim, a third-year electrical engineering student at AUS, in partnership with his friend Zulqarnain Mehdi from Troy University, created BonAppetit, a Nokia app that helps users search for restaurants and other eating places by cuisines and locations. The app also allows users to contact the restaurant directly.
BonAppetit won the top spot in the challenge, beating entries from almost 200 other students from eight universities in the UAE. Ten apps were shortlisted for the award ceremony from the 22 apps that were submitted.
"We were outside late one night when we suddenly felt a craving for Cold Stone Creamery ice cream. Since we didn't know which branch would be open at midnight, we called the directory service to ask them which branch would be open but all they could provide us with was the contact number. That's when we had our 'eureka' moment. We decided to create an app that would contain necessary information of all the restaurants in the UAE including the menu, branch locations, contact numbers, times they operate, etc.," said Kassim.
For their success, the winners were awarded US$5,000 in cash, a summer internship at Nokia UAE, a study tour to the Nokia Research Centre in Finland as well as a Nokia N9 Smartphone.
"Winning this competition has given me a great opportunity to work as an intern at Nokia. Considering the current market situations for recent graduates, this internship has given me a head start and an edge over others when the time comes for me to look for a suitable job. Moreover, the cash prize was great! And finally, I get to visit the Nokia Research Labs in Finland; it's a great opportunity," said Kassim.
"Today mobile applications are growing significantly and soon they will compete or even replace desktop applications. That is why smartphone makers are competing to develop the best mobile applications to be ahead of the game. So it was great to see Nokia, one of the major smartphone makers, empowering university students to also get in to the mobile applications game," said Dr. Fadi Aloul, Associate Professor of Computer Engineering at AUS.
"In preparation for the challenge, students received a free two-month training on mobile application development technologies, which is valuable to students as it opens more doors for them," said Dr. Aloul who is also the faculty liaison for the challenge. "In addition to the training, the challenge also helps students think as entrepreneurs, helps them work as a team, and encourages them to think outside the box and to be innovative."
The winners were chosen by a judging panel comprising Tom Farrell, Vice President of Nokia Middle East; Abed Agha, Developer of the Arab Idol App; and Tom Shambler, Editor of Stuff Magazine.
Prior to this achievement, Kassim with another AUS student Mohamad Bin Kalban Bani Wael, won second place in the Annual Wooden Bridge Competition held at American University in Dubai (AUD) on April 7, 2012.