Emirati medical innovator joins esteemed judging panel for James Dyson Awards 2021

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Dr. Eng. Suaad Al Shamsi

Dr. Ali Hilal Alnaqbi joins engineers Reem Al Marzouqi and Dr. Eng. Suaad Al Shamsi to inspire the next generation of problem solvers in the UAE

The James Dyson Awards, an international platform to launch the next generation of inventors, returns to the UAE in 2021 to continue to foster the spirit of innovation amongst undergraduates and recent graduates of engineering and design. In its fourth edition, students will present their innovations to an expert panel of nationally celebrated innovators including Emirati inventor of the bio-artificial liver, Dr. Ali Hilal Alnaqbi. 

Dr. Ali joins the expert judging panel including Emirati engineer and driverless car designer, Reem Al Marzouqi; aircraft engineer and aviation advisor, Dr. Eng. Suaad Al Shamsi; and Professor Tadhg O’Donovan, Head of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Dubai. The judging panel will draw upon their own expertise to not only select the winning problem-solving solution but also work closely with the new generation of design engineers to inspire their approach towards addressing real-world problems. 

Speaking about the competition, Dr. Eng. Suaad Al Shamsi said, “The James Dyson awards is a great opportunity for talented and entrepreneurial youth in the UAE to showcase their inventiveness in tackling real-world problems. The calibre of entries we received in the 2020 edition was remarkable and is a great testament to the nation’s vision of being a hub for innovation.”

The James Dyson Awards is an international competition that calls upon young innovators and engineers to design inventions in line with Dyson’s vision of solving problems that others ignore. Previous winners of the James Dyson Awards have invented solutions to address global problems ranging from generating green energy, to eliminating plastic waste, to improving water supplies, and providing affordable healthcare in developing countries. 

Prior to submission, university students from across the country will be given the opportunity to attend a workshop with a Dyson engineer to take them through the design process adopted at Dyson to further guide their critical thinking, prototypes, and award submissions. 

Last year, saw a record-breaking number of entries to the Award and witnessed the introduction of a new, additional prize that recognises efforts in sustainability. In 2021, there continues to be two monetary global prizes for the International Sustainability winner and the Overall International winner. But first, each participating country and region will award a national winner and two national runners-up. Those that win a national accolade proceed to the international awarding stages.

The UAE is the first Middle East country to host the awards. Entries are judged on criteria which includes both technical and commercial feasibility, to encourage entrants to develop ideas that could help them build their own companies in future.

The James Dyson Awards were launched globally in 2005, to find unique solutions to problems using design thinking and engineering, and now take place in 28 countries worldwide, with regional winners going on to compete in a global final. 

Entry is open to students and recent graduates in product design, industrial design, and engineering, until 30th June 2021.

Detailed profiles of the judging panel are listed below:

  • Dr. Ali Hilal Alnaqbi is an Emirati innovator in the medical field who received the UAE Pioneers Award for developing an artificial liver that could save thousands of lives. The first of its kind invention was credited as one of the most important medical breakthroughs by an Emirati. He was also selected by the World Economic Forum (Davos) to be one of 40 exceptional researchers from the Arab World. Dr. Ali has registered 5 US patents related to the bioartificial liver device, stress, and strain testing equipment and has published over 44 research papers in Applied Engineering and Biomedical journals. He is currently the Director at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic and an active member of the Emirates Scientific Council and WEF Future Councils.
  • Reem Al Marzouqi is an Emirati engineer and the first citizen of the UAE to be granted a patent in the United States of America for designing a driverless car. She is currently working with Hopemakers.co a social enterprise that is focused on volunteering projects to renovate facilities in healthcare and education in developing countries.
  • Dr. Eng. Suaad Al Shamsi is an aircraft engineer and aviation advisor who has worked with many of the leading companies in aviation and engineering including Messier Bugatti, Honeywell, Kunz, Airbus and Boeing, Emirates and Etihad. Dr. Al Shamsi holds a DBA and an MBA in Aviation Management, a degree in Aerospace Engineering and was awarded an honorary doctorate for her work in supporting and empowering women in aviation. She is also one of the founders of the Middle East Chapter of Women in Aviation and is a member of a number of industry associations. Dr. Al Shamsi is currently an aviation consultant for Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal, one of the biggest airport terminals in the world, as well as CEO of L2L consultancy.
  • Professor Tadhg O’Donovan, Head of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Dubai. After gaining his PhD from Trinity College Dublin in 2005, Professor O’Donovan joined Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh in 2007 as a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, before becoming Associate Professor in 2015, and then being appointed as the Associate Head of the School for Engineering and Physical Sciences at the Dubai Campus in 2018. Professor O’Donovan has a research background in thermal science which now focuses on solar energy conversion, systems and storage, in a range of use scenarios, as well as solar management in a range of other applications. He has published in excess of 80 research papers and has established collaborative links with a number of renewable energy companies. 

About the competition 

The brief

Design something that solves a problem. This problem may be a frustration that we all face in daily life, or a global issue. The important thing is that the solution is effective and demonstrates considered design thinking. 

The process

Entries are judged first at the national level by a panel of external judges. Each operating market awards a National winner and two National runners-up. From these winners, a panel of Dyson engineers then select an international shortlist of 20 entries. The top 20 projects are then reviewed by Sir James Dyson who selects the International winner, International runners-up and the International Sustainability winner.

The prize 

  • The International winner receives a prize of £30,000, plus £5,000 for the winner’s university.
  • The Sustainability winner receives a prize of £30,000.
  • The two International runners-up receive £5,000.
  • Each National winner receives £2,000. 

Sustainability winner

In 2020, the James Dyson Award introduced a new, additional prize that recognises efforts in sustainability. The Sustainability winner is chosen by Sir James Dyson from the international top 20 finalists. Potential winners of this accolade will have paid close attention to their invention’s part in solving a sustainability-related problem and today’s sustainable agenda. This could be through its materials, design process, methods of manufacture, or to the problem it is trying to solve. a.  

The deadline to apply: midnight PST on 30 June 2021.

How to enter

Candidates enter through an online application form via the James Dyson Award website. 

Entrants should explain what their invention is, how it works, and their development process. The best entries solve a real problem, are clearly explained, show iterative development, provide evidence of prototyping and have supporting imagery and a video. 

All judges will take into consideration the restrictions to prototyping and product development as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Eligibility criteria

The James Dyson Award runs in 28 countries and regions worldwide. These are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, UK, and USA. The Award launches for the first time in Poland in 2021.

Entrants must be, or have been within the last four years, enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate engineering/design related course. This course must be at a university in a country or region chosen to participate in the James Dyson Award. 

In the case of team entries, all members must be or have been within the last four years, enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate programme at a university in a country or region chosen to participate in the James Dyson Award. At least one team member must have studied an eligible subject in engineering or design.

From 2020, those participating in a degree level apprenticeship at Level 6 or Level 7, and those who have completed said apprenticeship in the past four years, are now eligible to enter the award.