Researchers from American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) College of Engineering are benefitting from the university’s new research agenda, with students and faculty working on research projects likely to have a global impact.
The patron of the university, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of AUS, has publicly committed to supporting research initiatives at the university by opening up additional areas of graduate study and creating a world-class research environment. He said at a university event held for AUS alumni in January:
“Our focus will be on interdisciplinary programs such as biomedical technology, smart cities, material science, environment and artificial intelligence. This also means creating an attractive research environment that helps AUS attract distinguished faculty and students.”
For Dr. Ghaleb Husseini, Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs and Research in the College of Engineering, this commitment to research has allowed him to pursue a project that will positively influence the way in which many cancers are treated. Dr. Husseini is leading a research initiative at AUS where chemotherapy treatment is applied directly to the site of a cancer. The groundbreaking treatment sees only the site of the cancer itself impacted by the drug, thereby reducing many of the adverse side effects traditionally associated with chemo, such as hair loss, immune system compromises and nausea.
The breakthrough has been facilitated by the resources available at the university, including a Drug Delivery Laboratory, just one of the 49 engineering laboratories located at the university. Dr. Husseini says of his work at AUS:
“The size and resources of the university’s engineering college allows us to engage in interdisciplinary research projects, drawing on the expertise of faculty across many fields of engineering, including chemical, electrical, mechanical, biomedical, computing and others. For complex problems, it is essential to have this spectrum of knowledge and understanding, bringing it all together to tackle problems that just a generation ago seemed intractable. When it comes to cancer research, the best results are generated when working across different disciplines in this way. We are fortunate that at American University of Sharjah we have this level of diversity in talent, as well as laboratory equipment that is truly world-class.”
The College of Engineering is also home to one of the world’s most efficient energy harvesting chips, which gathers energy from the air and converts it into easily accessible battery power. The device works by harnessing electromagnetic radiation from different sources and then reusing it to energize low-power circuits. The chip is reported to be one of the best when it comes to efficiency, and is one of the smallest of its kind to date. The project was led by Dr. Lutfi Albasha, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, with several graduate and undergraduate engineering students supporting him on the project. Like Dr. Husseini’s chemotherapy research, this project is set to have real benefit on large parts of the population, with potential uses of the chip including being placed in medical chips that monitor blood sugar levels in people with diabetes; powering wireless sensors on bridges, roads and buildings to monitor structural safety; and improving the battery life of mobile phones.
In the field of robotics, a team of researchers from the College of Engineering has been successful in creating a robot that can detect pipeline leaks. Using an algorithm that enables high accuracy localization, the robot overcomes navigation problems often associated with in-pipe inspection robots. Wireless communications have also been added to the robot, allowing an operator to use the device remotely and receive real-time data, making it easier to find and repair leaks. The project received AED 1 million last year, when it won the UAE AI and Robotics for Good, National Category.
The commercialization of projects like this are likely to receive a boost when the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park, being built adjacent to the AUS campus, opens. The park will be home to a number of knowledge-intensive businesses, leveraging the intellectual and academic capabilities of the university. The park is seeking to attract businesses operating in fields of importance to the UAE economy, including water technology, renewable energy, transportation and logistics, production, design and architecture, environmental technology and digitization. Through the park, research projects at AUS will be given increased opportunities for investment and development, making the benefits of AUS felt more widely in the community.
AUS Chancellor Dr. Björn Kjerfve says of the university’s research direction:
“Now is an exciting time to engage in research at AUS. Our university is home to some of the region’s best research facilities, allowing our talented faculty and their students the opportunity to embark on ambitious research projects that have a tangible impact on the way we all live our lives. With the support of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the university’s research agenda will continue to grow, as will the impact of this research. I look forward to seeing many of the research projects we currently have underway at the university come to fruition, and to launching new research initiatives that will help to make the UAE known globally for its research capacity and capability.”
For more information about the AUS College of Engineering, including the research projects it is currently pursuing, visit www.aus.edu/cen.