For the second year in a row, student research from American University of Sharjah (AUS) has won top honors in the architecture and design category of the Global Undergraduate Awards. In the 2020 edition of the awards, AUS students have also received four regional awards in computer engineering, linguistics, politics and international relations, and visual arts, and have been recognized for eight highly recommended entries in the world’s leading academic awards program that celebrates top undergraduate work done around the globe.
Aishwarya Sariram, an AUS architecture graduate, won the architecture and design award for her project “Bee-Ball Deathtrap,” which is an exploration of a predator-prey relationship prevalent in the natural world—inspired by a moment of attack between the predator (the giant hornet) and the prey (the Japanese honeybee).
Talking about the winning project, Sariram said: “I chose this project because I felt it is one of my most honest design explorations during my undergraduate studies. The intersection between design and architecture with the natural world made it an abstract yet compelling subject matter to discuss. I explored the interaction of the two species in two- and three-dimensional drawings and models. Each of the elements involved in this story was codified and given a particular profile in 3D models, which helped simulate the entire attack as if it were frozen in time.
“The most significant outcome of this project is that it is entirely based on an abstract phenomenon from the natural world, which is one of the most stimulating and compelling avenues for design inspiration. The project, while not biomimetic in nature, recognizes that if almost all-natural processes are stripped down to the basics and are looked at in absolutes, a diverse range of information can be derived to sustain a particular design intention,” she said.
Currently seeking professional opportunities to further her career with plans to pursue her graduate degree in architecture, Sariram said applying for the Global Undergraduate Awards seemed like a “fitting end to five rewarding years at AUS, and an opportunity to represent AUS.”
Eight AUS students from the university’s College of Engineering (CEN), College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) received awards in the regional category for projects that encompassed a wide variety of topics.
An AUS computer science team won a regional award for utilizing deep learning and the Internet of Things (IoA) to develop a system that helps label camera traps used to capture images of animals in the wild. The team, which comprised computer engineering alumnus Ali Reza, and students Brylle Brian Gomez, Lana Alhaj Hussein and Dara Sakhnini, worked with Emirates Nature-WWF, which provided them with guidance and data throughout the process. In order to capture images of animals, ecologists place camera traps in the wild for months; this is followed by a tedious and time-consuming process where thousands of images are manually analyzed. To speed up this process, the AUS team developed a system that instantly labels an image as soon as it is captured by a camera trap and sends a notification to the ecologist’s mobile application detailing the type of animal, the time image was taken, and the location.
Other regional winners from AUS included English major Aya Sallam and mass communication alumna Suzanne Osman from the College of Arts and Sciences, and architecture alumni Samrakshan Surish and Dhruva Lakshminarayanan from the College of Architecture, Art and Design.
The Global Undergraduate Awards are the latest recognition garnered by the university for the high-quality research work conducted by its students. Founded in 2008 in Dublin, Ireland, the awards recognize top undergraduate work and share this work with a global audience, connecting the world’s brightest students and graduates across cultures and disciplines.