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2012 A Trail-blazing Year for Masdar Institute

Spotlight on Research Success, Patent Filings, Clean Energy Innovations, Scientific Papers at Global Forums and Solar Industry Award for Student

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 31 December, 2012 – Success is invariably marked by accomplishments and recognitions. For an academic institution, it is the creation of knowledge capital. But for a research-based institution, it surely is something far more than that.

With 311 peer-reviewed journal publications, 330 conference papers, two full books and 38 invention disclosures, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has already set a pioneering innovation trend in clean energy and sustainable advanced technologies. But with one patent already issued and 15 active patent applications pending, Masdar Institute has placed itself in a totally different league.

A provisional patent application was filed with the US Patents and Trademarks Office for a new lithium ion battery technology developed by a team of researchers and scientists from the Materials Science and Engineering students. At the same time, two faculty members and a student from the Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) program have filed a patent for a technology that could be applied in wind energy to support the grid with shunt and series compensation to mitigate voltage dips.

Numbers apart, there have been recognitions that came Masdar Institute’s way during the year. A remarkable win in the international Tag Challenge competition by a team of crowd-sourcing experts led by a faculty from the Computing and Information Science program redefined the limits of technology-mediated social mobilization and rapid information gathering.

But it was truly one of the crowning moments when Masdar Institute joined stakeholders to unveil the UAE Solar Atlas at the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil. A robust satellite-based mapping tool developed and validated at the UAE Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment at Masdar Institute facilitated the development of the atlas.

Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, President Masdar Institute, said: “Our faculty and students marked a year of collective success, establishing once again that Masdar Institute remains in the forefront of innovation. The number of patent filings and accepted papers at leading global forums further testify the depth of our achievements. With the support of the UAE’s leadership, our success continues as we hope to achieve additional milestones and set even higher benchmarks for excellence.”

Innovation stems from collaborative research. Masdar Institute excelled in this area during 2012 entering into research collaborations, especially with government organizations for mutual transfer of knowledge and expertise. An agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport (DoT) establishes a partnership on exchange of information in transportation. The information on public transport systems and basic traffic data will be used by Masdar Institute for a research project that investigates the transportation infrastructure, technology needs and public attitudes, pertinent to instituting a level of electrification in the Abu Dhabi transportation system.

The agreement with Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi (EAA) and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) has led to the setting up of a multi-entity taskforce, led by Masdar Institute and coordinated by the EAA to focus on managing the energy demand for cooling in Abu-Dhabi. The taskforce also includes participation and support from ADWEA, the Regulation and Supervision Bureau, the Department of the Municipal Affairs (ADM), and the Urban Planning Council (UPC).

Another MoU with ADWEA aims to identify areas for exchange of scientific and technological information through research collaborations, covering sustainable energy, water and environmental issues. Short courses and seminars for the benefit of internal and external stakeholders will also be developed, while ADWEA will support and assist students at Masdar Institute in their experimental research thesis work.

The year also witnessed a host of national and international partnerships. One such agreement between the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) and the German state of Saxony has led to the ‘Twin Labs’ project on three-dimensional chip stacking – one at Technische Universität Dresden and the other at Masdar Institute.

The research-based institution’s stellar role in advanced technology was further exemplified by the partnership with GlobalFoundries. The deal with one of the largest independent semiconductor foundries granted Masdar Institute students, researchers and professors privileged access to a technology development platform at its Abu Dhabi headquarters to process design kits (PDKs) for advanced semiconductor technology nodes, including the latest and revolutionary HKMG 28nm channel transistor technology. Graduate students preparing for their research project will also have the opportunity to apply for a three-to-six month internship at one of GlobalFoundries sites worldwide.

Research in renewable energy areas remains one of the core aspects of Masdar Institute. An international collaboration with Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Research Institute for Industrial Science and Technology (RIST) in Pohang of South Korea to design a robust and cost-efficient micro-grid operating on 100% renewable energy for an island near Abu Dhabi marked another notable moment for multiple partnerships.

Such academic and research accomplishments have also generated interest among the student community in the UAE universities to look at Masdar Institute for pursuing Master’s studies. An Open Day organized in early December witnessed students in large numbers flocking to the sustainable campus, keen to learn more about the academic and research offerings, as well as scholarship options and other facilities.

During the year, the total number of enrolled students across the eight Master’s academic programs reached 336, with UAE national students representing over 41% of the total student body. The ratio of UAE national students continues to increase, illustrating Masdar Institute’s relevance to Abu Dhabi’s long-terms objectives in obtaining economic diversification and establishing a knowledge-based society.

Masdar Institute contributes effectively to developing human capital in the region through joining hands with other key national and international stakeholders. A collaboration agreement with the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) provides scholarships for 30 UAE national students to study ICT subjects, while another agreement with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) awards up to 20 scholarships annually to talented students.

At the same time, a landmark deal with Toyota Motor Corporation offers annual scholarships to highly-qualified graduate students from around the world to work on projects in the area of technologies for sustainable development. More specifically, this program aims to facilitate research on the advancement of low-carbon emission vehicle technologies.

Capping the achievements of the year was Emirates Solar Industry Association’s (ESIA) ‘Solar Entrepreneur of the Year’ award for a Research Assistant – the youngest and only student among all nominees. The student won the award for his pioneering research on designing novel solar power systems and the best ways to overcome challenges in operating and implementing solar power projects in the UAE.

At the same time, a joint research paper by a Computing and Information Science student was selected the winner from among a total of 16 papers presented at the Pacific Asia Workshop on Intelligence and Security Informatics (PAISI 2012) in Kuala Lumpur.

While Masdar Institute will continue to drive such outstanding contributions by students and faculty, it is firmly looking at further consolidating its status as a world class research-based academic institution.

Serving as a key pillar of innovation and human capital, Masdar Institute remains fundamental to Masdar’s core objectives of developing Abu Dhabi’s knowledge economy and finding solutions to humanity’s toughest challenges such as climate change.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.  With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.
 

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