Dubai Campus students win prestigious sustainability competition



A team of Dubai campus students recently won first prize in the Building the Change: Acting on Plastic Universities Competition 2020. Organised by Dubai Investments, the largest and most diversified investment company in the UAE, and the Responsible Business Group, a well-known CSR and sustainability consulting firm, the prestigious competition is aimed at inspiring university students to become agents of change and to engage them in conceiving an integrated solution for managing and treating plastic waste at their universities as well as neighbouring communities following the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) approach.

The multidisciplinary team of six, led by Dr Neamat Elgayar (MACS), Dr Karima Hamani (EGIS) and Dr Vahid Razaviarani (EPS), submitted a three-pronged proposal that included a 3R behaviour tracking app called “Plastic Bounty”; a smart bin for automated plastic segregation; and an awareness-raising campaign. Plastic Bounty is a tracking, rewarding and awareness-raising app that can incentivise good behaviour towards reducing, reusing, and recycling on campus. The proposed smart bin uses AI enabled technologies to automate segregation through an ultrasonic sensor which in turn can help avoiding cross-contamination issues during waste disposal.

The Dubai campus was represented by the following students who competed with 80 participants from 13 universities across the UAE to win the first prize this year.

  • Sini Simon, MSc Construction Project Management, Team Leader  
  • Elham Zare, MA (Hons) International Business Management, 3rd Year 
  • Rohan Kalyani, BEng (Hons) Chemical Engineering, 4th Year 
  • Sarah Marium, BSc (Hons) Computer Science, 2020, 4th Year 
  • Akilan Selvacoumar, BSc (Hons) Computer Science, 3rd Year 
  • Sana Hafsa, BEng (Hons) Architectural Engineering, 2nd Year 

The proposals were not only evaluated for logic, credibility, strategic direction and creativity, but also for their levels of stakeholder engagement. The Heriot-Watt’s proposal stood out among the rest as it was mainly premised on inspiring and encouraging the community to take action on plastic with the aid of innovative technology and discourse.

The participation in the competition was steered by the Sustainability and Social Impact Committee (SSIMCO), a standing committee of actively engaged students, staff and faculty at the Dubai campus, who were also involved in guiding the participants with their proposal. One of its key objectives is to advise on the integration of sustainability and social responsibility into all university activities, including teaching, research, and enterprise.

The team were awarded with AED 50,000 of prize money during the prize distribution ceremony last week.