AUC Team Wins First Place in Student Union Real Life Competition

Real Life competition

Five junior students at The American University in Cairo (AUC), Ali El-Banbi, Ameena El-Agha, Mohamed Mansour, Tamer Osman, and Yasmina Halbouny, came in first place in AUC's Student Union's Real Life Competition for their idea Besta, a mobile application connecting junior doctors in rural and less-equipped areas to doctors in cities. The application aims to enable individuals in these areas to easily get checked for eye diseases, which can be visually diagnosed while asymptomatic, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. The competition provides an opportunity for international and Egyptian students to solve real-life challenges that intertwine between different societies worldwide.

This year, the Student Union's Real Life Competition brought together 250 international and local participants. Students from Hungary, Romania, Italy, Brazil, Afghanistan, France, Syria, Australia, Yemen, Spain, Lebanon, USA, Palestine, and Nigeria along with different parts of Egypt (Abu Qir, Giza, Zagazig, Kafr El Sheikh, Port Said, Qena and Alexandria) competed in 50 teams.

"Coming into this competition, I had little to no hope that we would even enter the top 20. We gave it our all for the experience and the opportunity; coming first was just a great bonus," said Mohamed Mansour on winning the AUC Student Union Real Life Competition.

Besta should automatically diagnose patients with high levels of accuracy without a doctor's intervention in the long run. "With these kinds of activities, having a team with commitment and grit is extremely important. Creativity and subject-matter expertise mean nothing if your team isn't willing to give it 100% every step of the way," said El-Agha on the reason behind their success.

Lobna Aboudoma, co-general manager of Real Life committee, said: "Sustainability is now becoming more important than ever with the limited resources we have, but now technology comes into play with recent advances that allow us to utilize it for community advancement, for solving infrastructural issues, for promoting better healthcare systems and access to inclusive and quality education."

Aboudoma explained: "Technology now plays a significant role in our day to day lives, and its integration has led us to think, how can we make use of these advancements to promote equality and accessibility? How can we innovate using technology to create safer communities for people? Throughout the competition, we've explored the endless applications of technological tools in our lives and how innovation through tech has brought about change."

By the time these diseases become symptomatic (the symptoms start to become visible), the patient could potentially have already lost part of their vision, stressing the importance of checkups. "To lose your eyesight is to lose your livelihood and the ability to put food on the table for your family. That's why we felt this was a pressing issue," said Osman on the choice of their project.

"We always like to think of our generation as the generation that can actively engage in a digital world and utilize all of its resources to bring about change and community development," said Aboudoma. She added that the purpose of this competition is to empower future generations to take charge of their future and actively work on making it theirs. "It is important to utilize the innovative potential of these generations, and opportunities such as these act as a reminder of how big of an impact they could have within their communities. For a generation that was mostly brought up surrounded by technology, they've seen it integrated within their lives from the very beginning, hence see its potential when carefully utilized," she added.

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Founded in 1919, The American University in Cairo (AUC) is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of the intellectual, social, and cultural life of the Arab world. It is a vital bridge between East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions and study abroad programs. 

The University offers 40 undergraduate, 52 master’s and two PhD programs rooted in a liberal arts education that encourages students to think critically and find creative solutions to conflicts and challenges facing both the region and the world. 

An independent, nonprofit, politically non-partisan, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.