AUC Students Regional Finalists in L’Oréal Brandstorm Competition
Three AUC students, Norhan El Gharbawy, Hassan Ahmed and Youssef Galal, won first place in the national finals of the L’Oréal Brandstorm 2017 competitions and were selected as regional finalists.
The 25-year-old competition, in which more than 15,000 students from different parts of the world participate every year, is composed of a brand challenge and a technology challenge. Each group is allowed to compete in only one of these two fields. While the first option is associated with innovating a new brand and creating a complete strategy for its packaging, marketing and related functions, the second field aims to model a technological device. The AUC student team participated in the technology challenge with their Smart Hair Mentor prototype.
Innovate and Create
“The function of Smart Hair Mentor is basically to get readings indicating hair condition through a mobile application where products recommendations are sent depending on the type of hair,” explained Ahmed, an electronics and communications engineering graduating senior. “Our software is targeted at designing a device that serves 18 to 25-year-olds through integrating new technology with L’Oréal’s products.”
This was not the idea the team was originally set to work on. “First, we thought of a hair brush to get all these readings, but we realized that L’Oréal released a similar device recently. Consequently, we had to change our plans and develop the Smart Hair Mentor,” Galal said.
For El Gharbawy, an electronics and communications graduating senior, the technology challenge enabled them to “get hands-on experience with the digital innovation of L’Oreal.”
El Gharbawy attributes her team’s accomplishments to efficient time management, which helped them throughout the competition. “Time management for a graduating senior is not a simple task, yet our commitment to the project and competition facilitated our weekly meetings and enabled us to finish our task,” noted El Gharbawy.
Sharing similar sentiments, Ahmed noted that he simultaneously worked on his thesis, conducted research, helped organize the AUC Tech Summit Conference and worked on the prototype for the L’Oreal competition. “We all had to take it seriously, especially after passing the campus final competition,” he recalled.
Galal, a computer science senior, also emphasized that they had to manage their time wisely. “We had to wait until 8 or 9 pm after we were finished with our classes in order to start working on the prototype and the presentation for the competition.”
Throughout the competition, the AUC student team received support through workshops and sessions provided by the company’s representatives. However, they affirmed that they are really thankful for the “inspiring competition environment” and the support of AUC’s Career Center, which was the first to announce the competition for AUC students through different channels, hosted and organized the campus-level competition for AUC students, supporting them in different stages and at the national competition until they became the regional finalists.
Networking and Practical Applications
Networking was one of the main benefits of the competition for Ahmed, allowing him and his team “a shortcut into the corporate world,” he reflected. “Competitions force you to go beyond academic scope, and build on it to develop a real product.” He described how he wishes he could go back to his freshman year and never let any competition pass without participating in it.
El Gharbawy liked working on an idea to fulfill business needs. “I learned how to think of the business perspective and take a technical idea to the next level, where a company and customer would both be satisfied,” she said, adding that competitions allow students to practically apply all their academic skills to produce a real, innovative product. She recommends fellow students to participate in at least one competition throughout their undergraduate years. “Such opportunities improve and enhance your skills beyond academics,” she affirmed.