My Campus

KU Students Learn about UAE Energy Sector at Total and Institut Francais Youth Hackathon

June 23, 2021

Six KU Master’s students participated in a Youth Hackathon hosted by TotalEnergies and the Institut Francais in the UAE focused on the evolution of the UAE energy sector. 


The Hackathon took place from 7 to 9 June 2021, and culminated with a final pitch ceremony that was held at Warehouse 421 in Abu Dhabi in the presence of His Excellency X. Chatel, Ambassador of France to the UAE, and Elias Kassis, TotalEnergies Country Chair in the UAE.


A total of 18 students from three universities, including Khalifa University, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates University, participated in the Hackathon. They were divided into three teams of six students. Each team was made up of students from different universities, backgrounds, and degree programs, and was assigned to study and develop a solution for one of three different energy sources –  gas and hydrogen, solar, and wind.


The KU students who participated were Huda Mohamed Alhashmi, MSc in Petroleum Engineering; Ahmed Khalid Alzaabi, MSc in Petroleum Engineering; Brenda Hernandez Corona, MSc in Sustainable Critical Infrastructure; Lamiaa Elsherbiny, MSc in Mechanical Engineering; Waleed Khaled Elayan, MSc in Health, Safety and Environment Engineering; and Ahmed Mahdy Yassin, MSc in Electrical Engineering. 


The solar team, which included Huda and Brenda, won first place for their proposed solution to the current challenges the region is facing when it comes to solar power activities. Their idea was to develop a startup that converts solar waste to life by recycling solar panels into many different raw materials and substances that can be used in a wide variety of sectors.


“I am extremely happy to be part of this amazing initiative. We had a great time exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with green/ renewable energy resources. We were lucky to be exposed to different scientific arguments, knowledge and discussions,” Huda shared. She also expressed gratitude to the KU faculty members who nominated the students to participate in this Hackathon.  


The three-day program began with general presentations about the future of energy from experts, followed by an ice breaking session to allow all participants to get to know each other.  


On the second day, teams were assigned an energy source and began developing ideas to address the challenges faced in each energy topic.  They were guided by expert instructors who helped them plan, organize and coordinate their ideas into beneficial and practical solutions.


On the third day, each group presented their solution in-person to His Excellency X. Chatel and Elias Kassis.


Ahmed, who was part of the wind energy team, said the experience forced him to think about how wind turbines would be placed in the UAE within the context of the country’s climate and environment, and what the necessary steps would be to maintain those turbines for a long period of time. 


“I learned the importance of a proper and concise planning process and how to organize one’s thoughts. I really enjoyed taking the challenge of coming up with innovative ideas with renewable energy in mind. The organizers did an amazing job in breaking the ice and engaging everyone enrolled,” he shared.


Waleed, who graduated with a BSc in Chemical Engineering from KU and is now pursuing his MSc in Health, Safety and Environment Engineering, developed a solution that would help the UAE adopt clean and sustainable energy by leveraging the UAE’s abundant supply of natural gas and splitting it into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen can be used as a sustainable fuel source, while the carbon dioxide would be sequestered using carbon capture and utilization (CCUS) technologies. 


The one-of-a-kind hackathon provided a unique opportunity for Khalifa University students to investigate the challenges and possible solutions facing the country’s energy transformation with experts in the energy field. Energy is a central thrust in KU’s research portfolio, with Masdar Institute focused on advancing solutions in renewable energy and Petroleum Institute focused on making traditional energy more efficient and sustainable.


Providing students with opportunities to collaborate with industry experts can bring significant benefits, from providing them with new perspectives to expanding their professional networks. Khalifa University’s Student Services Office is committed to supporting opportunities like this in order to maximize students’ academic experience.


Erica Solomon
Senior Publication Specialist
20 June 2021