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Alumni Spotlight: Building Software to Make Laboratories “Smart” and Sustainable

 

Dr. Hamzah AlZubi, a Class of 2011 MSc in Computing and Information Science (CIS) alumnus, has continued to build upon the expertise and insights he gained during his master’s studies to become an expert in the development of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, which he now uses in his professional work in the UK to make laboratory automation systems faster, more powerful and smarter.

AlZubi, who was among Masdar Institute’s first class of graduates, believes that smart machines have a critical role to play in making people’s lives easier and more sustainable. That is why he studied machine learning and optimization techniques – two key computing technologies that make machines “smart” – during his graduate studies at Masdar Institute.  Dr. AlZubi continues to explore these AI systems in his current job at CSols Ltd., where he works to make “labs of the future” smarter.

“One of the grand challenges of engineering is being able to understand the human brain and design intelligent machines that replicate human intelligence,” explained Dr. Alzubi. “AI algorithms play a major role in our daily lives, from social media, online shopping, science, etc. With the rapid growth of data, big data algorithms are also required to analyze complicated data sets. The merging of these techniques – AI and big data – is vital to cope with a high data volume in a smart approach,” he added.

Before taking on his current position, Dr. AlZubi leveraged his advanced CIS degree from Masdar Institute to pursue a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Electronics from the University of Liverpool in the UK. While there, he developed a dynamic network of connected sensors, also known as “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices, for the aquaculture industry.

“We deployed smart sensors to collect information on the surrounding environment in an aquaculture system and fed the sensors with interactive AI algorithms, which were based on the cloud. The AI algorithms we developed interacted with the environment through an online learning platform, without having had any previous knowledge of it,” Dr. AlZubi explained.

The advanced, machine learning-based smart sensors Dr. AlZubi and his colleagues developed have been implemented by several groups in the University of Liverpool, Salford University, and some local companies as well, including in the NHS Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool-UK.

The young Jordanian credits his experience at Masdar Institute for the complex problem-solving skills, analytical thinking abilities, awareness of sustainability, and technical computing skills – particularly in the areas of machine learning and data analytics – that contributed to his doctoral degree achievement.

Dr. AlZubi’s challenging master’s thesis pushed him deeper into the computing field. His thesis work focused on the development of a novel brain computer interface (BCI). This system allows direct communication between the brain and a computer through the development of appropriate machine learning and signal processing tools. He also contributed to a Masdar Institute project to optimize the design of a hybrid solar-wind energy plant.

After receiving his PhD in 2015, Dr. AlZubi stayed at the University of Liverpool as a postdoctoral researcher for a year and a half. During that time he helped develop real-time, multi-object 3-dimensional tracking algorithms and automatic biometric systems, which are technological systems that use information about a being to identify that individual. He also spent time on another project during his postdoc posting, developing optical techniques to detect the degeneration of algorithms used to monitor transformer oil (the mineral oil used in power transformers), which plays an important role in fault diagnosis of electrical power transformers.

Now, AlZubi is employed as a product developer for the UK-based CSols Ltd., a laboratory informatics company that develops laboratory software solutions to optimize laboratory run costs and turnaround times, and enhance laboratory quality control.

For the last three months, Dr. AlZubi has been developing AI agents and big data applications for automated labs. He also works with a team of researchers developing solutions to manage and reduce a laboratory’s carbon footprint. He is currently co-supervising two PhD students from the University of Liverpool as part of a collaborative research project between the University and CSols Ltd.

“I believe today’s laboratory operations can be optimized and managed using both AI and big data techniques. Also, several relationships and dependencies can be revealed within the massive volume of laboratories’ data around the globe. So, we currently develop big data techniques to estimate and optimize laboratory carbon footprint and manage laboratory operations,” explained Dr. AlZubi.

Dr. AlZubi, now leveraging his advanced research capabilities to support the high-tech industrial sector, exemplifies Masdar Institute’s vision of developing high-caliber human capital for the development of smarter, more sustainable, technologies.

The computing specialist plans to continue developing innovative solutions to help make industrial laboratories smarter and more sustainable, and hopes to be able to deploy these solutions to laboratories around the globe soon.

 

Erica Solomon
News and Features Writer
24 July 2016

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