By Dhanusha Gokulan Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
After year-long research and experiments, Maryam Al Hashmi, an 18-year-old Emirati student, has invented an affordable method to produce solar energy.
Her invention titled 'Epilogue of Plasticus' could eventually replace silicone filaments in solar cells with plastic photocells.
When Khaleej Times asked how she did it, a reserved Hashmi said: "I can't reveal that secret, I experimented with several chemicals to make this invention. but one plastic photocell on a solar panel can conduct 202 to 349 milliwats of energy.
Eventually, all silicone-based solar panels can be replaced with these plastic photocells."
Her invention can make solar energy cheaper and easily accessible.
The young Emirati contested her invention at the 6th Intel Science Competition Arab World and has won the first place under the 'Environmental Engineering' category.
Hashmi, student of Al Ittihad Private School, Jumeirah, was also awarded second place for the category Grand Awards from the Intel Foundation. Thirteen Emirati boys and girls participated for the competition, which took place recently in Alexandria, Egypt.
The competition celebrates young scientists and played host to over 110 students from across 11 Arab countries who presented 77 projects and competed for $20,000 worth prize money.
The finalists were selected from 77 projects spanning from biochemistry to electrical and mechanical engineering to energy and transport.
Their projects were evaluated on the site by over 40 judges representing 10 Arab countries, all of which are university professors from the region.
The projects were selected based on creativity and originality of the idea, scientific thought of the project, achieving engineering goals, thoroughness of detail, skills of performance, clarity of ideas and team collaboration.
Speaking about how her idea for the project was developed, Hashmi said: "I got the idea from the YouTube viral video about solar electricity bottles being used in Philippines. If it is being used there, I was sure it could be used for this project as well."
Hashmi spent an entire year working on the project.
"I've always loved science as a subject. I attended my first science competition when I was in 10th grade, I've been hooked since then."
Crucial for women Noora Hamad Al Marri, 18-year-old student of Dubai National School in Al Twar whose invention 'Thermoelectric Smart Buildings' got the second place under the 'Physical Energy' category said that it is crucial for women to enter the field of sciences.
Her project converts the air temperature surrounding buildings to power electrical appliances inside the building.
The project will work in both hot and cold temperatures. Al Marri invented the project along with her teammate Marwa Rashed Saif Ali Khatem. "We're still using fossil fuels as a major source of electricity. I thought to myself, there must be some other way to generate power," said Al Marri.
"My interest in science began since I was in Grade 2. Unlike other schools that say science is not for girls, my school really motivated me to take up more interest in science," said Al Marri.
"The Intel Science Competition is a crucial event for the future of young scientists in the Arab world. These finalists represent the best and the brightest innovators and leaders from our region," said Taha Khalifa, Regional General Manager for Intel, Middle East and North Africa.
"Judging by the caliber of the projects presented this week, I am confident that these young innovators will make our world a better place."