At AUC’s first Research Day, fourteen AUC students and seven faculty members were awarded with a cash prize and certificate for the best outstanding research. The awards and closing remarks were given by Prince Turki Al Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. More than 100 students and faculty members presented a diverse array of innovative and creative research taking place at the university at AUC Research Day, which was held on March 30. AUC student Omar Gaballa, rhetoric and composition, Academy of Liberal Arts won first place for his research idea, titled, “Life Sustaining Yet Lethal: Food.” In the graduate students category, Mariam Makramalla, international and comparative education, Graduate School of Education, won first place for her research titled, “Culture Contextualization of Mathematics Instruction. As for faculty members, Ghada Elshimi, associate dean of undergraduate studies, Academy of Liberal Arts, won the first place among research ideas presented by faculty members, titled “Transformational Learning: Identity Insights.”The idea of conveying a message in a particular research area is what inspired Yasser M. Khaldi and Mark H. Sedrak, who introduced engineering solutions to the chronic infrastructure problems that exist in urban slums throughout Egypt, to participate at AUC’s Research Day. “Without AUC’s academic facilities and resources we wouldn't have had the opportunity to present at Research Day,” said Khaldi. “As loyal students, we have to give back to the community by sharing diverse, unique research.”
Khaldi and Sedrak designed infrastructure facilities and network designs such as transportation, water and sewage lines for the district of Al Sharabia located North of Cairo. “For the drainage network design, we located points in the district where catch basins can be installed in order to reduce water accumulation in the streets in situations of excessive rain,” explained Sedrak.
In addition, Khaldi and Sedrak presented a traffic plan and analysis study for the area of Al Sharabia. “In order to provide efficient designs to meet the traffic demand in this district, we forecasted the number of vehicles in different routes,” said Sedrak. “One of the main problems with Egypt’s infrastructure system is that it doesn’t offer alternative ways to access different communities, which is what creates traffic congestion.”
Committed to improve Egypt’s educational system, Mariam Makramalla addressed the importance of modifying Egypt’s educational system with classroom pedagogies that fit with responsive teaching techniques. “I think there is an urgent need to introduce new methods that encourage the process of analytical and critical thinking,” she said. “This research is significant as it offers an alternative way of instruction that is different from the traditional curriculum.”
For Makramalla, winning the competition proved that she was capable of communicating her research to others outside her discipline of study. “I feel incredibly motivated to speak about my research,” she said. “I plan to use the cash prize to fund my participation in the International Education Conference at the Lebanese American University.”
Also looking into development in Egypt, Hani Sewilam, professor of mechanical engineering, School of Sciences and Engineering; director, Center for Sustainable Development presented his research about desalinated water and food production, titled “Desalinated Water for Food Production in the Arab Region.” Sewilam explained that with 85 percent of Egypt’s water resources being used to irrigate agriculture, this research is vital because there is water scarcity in the country. “I presented a unique method to desalinate and produce water for irrigation. I proposed the use of solar energy to produce electricity, which in turn is used to desalinate water and produce irrigated agriculture.”
AUC’s Research Day motivates students and faculty members to be at the same level of commitment and participation, noted Sewilam. “It is research initiatives like this day that are valuable,” he stated. “It encourages faculty members to promote their work after working long nights conducting research. Being part of this experience is an added value to any AUC faculty member because it attracts donors, funds research and shows our community at large that we have produced valuable research that contributes to the sustainable development of Egypt and beyond.”