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CEN students’ project wins international recognition in prestigious James Dyson Award
Two students from the College of Engineering (CEN) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) were declared international runner-up in the James Dyson Award, one of the world’s most prestigious student innovation competitions. This success follows their win in the UAE category of the award.
Engineering students Amer Siddiqui and Ali Asgar Salim were recognized for their work in improving air travel accessibility for wheelchair users. Their proposed solution, entitled the Air Chair, aims to make the experience more comfortable and dignified for travelers with disability. It will allow people to use one chair for their entire journey from the departure lounge to plane take-off.
“Winning the UAE leg of the James Dyson Award was an immense honor in its own right. But being selected international runner-up by a technology pioneer like James Dyson is a true vindication of our idea. This achievement has spurred us on to continue developing the Air Chair. Through the exposure of our concept, we hope to secure even more investment to kick-start the prototyping phase; we’ll feel restless until we see the Air Chair in airports across the globe," said Siddiqui and Salim.
The Air Chair can be operated electrically or manually inside the airport terminal. Once it enters the plane cabin, the chair's concept design allows it to pass through the aisle, which is usually too narrow for regular wheelchairs to pass through. The locking mechanism in the chair restricts it from moving during the flight. It can also be easily folded reducing its height by more than two thirds when not in use.
Currently, the Air Chair project is still in the concept stage. The next stages will include prototyping, where all wheelchair and aviation safety and regulatory regulations (CAA, ICAO, FAA FDA, MHRA, and others) will be will be taken into consideration.
Speaking on the success, Dr. Richard Schoephoerster, Dean of the AUS College of Engineering, said:
“The achievement of our students at the world-acclaimed engineering and design award is a matter of great pride for us. We are also thankful to Dyson for encouraging young minds to unleash their creativity and innovation for the betterment of the society. I am confident that Amer and Ali’s success will set a shining example for other students in the university and spur them on to follow their dreams.”
The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award embody a vision to empower aspiring engineers, encouraging them to apply their theoretical knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology.
“The UAE government is instilling a culture of innovation in the education system in the country, and results are plain to see. Seeing the country winners make it to the runners-up position globally in the first-ever edition of James Dyson Award in the UAE, is proof that residents and citizens of the country are steadily progressing to make a mark on the world stage for innovation. At Dyson we are proud to support these talented individuals, thereby contributing to the overall vision of the government in our own way,” said Yousef Mouallem, Managing Director at Dyson MEA.