By Naila Tariq
Receiving knowledge is one thing, but generating new knowledge that has real-world applications for society is another entirely. That's where research and development come in, and one of the prime sources for such research is universities, from both faculty and students. American University of Sharjah has always been a part of that, forging a path towards becoming a full-on research university.
For twelve years now, the AUS Office of Research and Graduate Studies has held a Student Research competition— sponsored by BP UAE and Sharjah Islamic Bank— to recognize the important, potentially world-changing research students have generated in that academic year.
The projects participants submit are judged through a two-tier process: first at the level of the students' college, then at the university level. BP UAE categorizes its awards through the company's brand values, offering the Respect Award, the Courage Award, the Excellence Award and the One Team Award. The Sharjah Islamic Bank offers first, second, and third place prizes, as well as an honorable mention.
This year's awards ceremony was held on the April 12 (a fitting date for the 12th ever ceremony) in AUS's Main Building, Lecture Hall A. There were winners from every college, with research related to subjects ranging from international studies to environmental science.
“We really learned to work with each other in this award, and we're all glad that it actually got recognized,” said Sara Aleem, College of Architecture, Art and Design student and one of the winners of the 16-member One Team Award. “Our project was built on site, so it's actually part of the university and getting recognized for that is great.”
Dr. Khaled Assaleh, Interim Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies, moderated the event, while AUS Chancellor Dr. Björn Kjerfve and Interim Provost Kevin Mitchell gave opening speeches thanking the sponsors and expressing their pride in the winners.
Dr. Kjerfve also discussed AUS's determination to become a research university. “Technology has made distances disappear. What happens in one corner of the globe has an immediate impact across the globe. On the positive side, that means that issues we work on and solve at AUS can have benefits for societies facing similar challenges everywhere,” said the Chancellor. He also mentioned the upcoming Research, Technology and Innovation Park being built west of campus as an example of the way AUS is furthering its research goals.
In addition, SIB representative and Head of Organizational Excellence Jassem Al Baloushi as well as BP UAE representative and Technical Advisor Mohammed AlNakhi each made remarks congratulating the winners. Both emphasized the impact research like this will continue to have on the UAE and the world at large.
The winners were then presented their awards, with recognition given to their advisors, after which thanks was given to the committee members in charge of judging the entries.
Undergraduate students from all colleges and backgrounds are welcome to answer the call for next year's awards when it comes. The Student Research Award is AUS's way of reminding you: You are the future, and the gaps in knowledge and research are yours to fill. Some of it may just change the world.
Naila Tariq is a student at American University of Sharjah.
Visit www.aus.edu for more information about American University of Sharjah