JEDDAH: A total of 20 research and science projects were selected to be prepared for commercial use and introduced to the Saudi market as a result of a partnership between leading skill developing and entrepreneurial entities.
The Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat), in partnership with the King Abdul Aziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness, (Mawhiba), selected projects whose owners will receive individual consultative sessions from the experts at Monshaat, in preparation for their presentation to the market as small enterprises.
The 20 were selected from the 151 projects that qualified for the final stage of the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity (IBDAA 2020) based on the criteria of clarity of innovative product and their ability to attract investment.
The projects came from a wide range of fields such as environmental engineering, applied physics, robotics and smart devices, chemical energy, biomedicine, botany and more.
Speaking to Arab News, 17-year-old high school graduate student AlBaraa Merdad from Jeddah’s Dar Jana said he was interested in computer science, more specifically in artificial intelligence, and found difficulty in going forward with it, both theoretically and practically. After enrolling in the Saudi Research Science Institute at King Abdullah University for Sciences and Technology, Merdad was assigned to a professor who specialized in the field of petroleum engineering and the two were able to develop an idea that had potential time-saving value.
The project focuses on automating the process of rock fracture detection using machine learning employed in oil reservoirs, and Merdad was able to come up with the solution to the problem within 6 weeks.
“In reservoirs, you find rock fractures that can affect the process of extracting the oil, they must be identified one way or another. The current methods used to detect them are manual, making them inefficient and time-consuming, especially where a lot of fractures are present,” he said.
“Image-extracting machines used at reservoirs can provide data to analyze the site in a program, so that the fractures can be identified in a matter of seconds instead of bringing in a specialist to analyze the data himself.”
Feeling energized and excited about his own project, Merdad hopes the support for STEM in Saudi high school students will result in more young men and women delving into scientific research and becoming pioneers in their fields.
18-year-old Lena Samer Sharif from Madinah put together a project using plasma rays to help hasten the growth of coffee beans. Working with a team from Taibah University in Madinah, she used plasma rays on a number of locally grown products such as basil, alfalfa (a flowering plant used for grazing) and fenugreek but found coffee bean germination to be most successful and effective.
“One of the main problems with coffee beans is that it takes approximately 3-4 years for newly planted coffee trees to bear fruit and we in the Kingdom consume a lot of coffee, especially locally made coffee in the southern regions,” said Lena.
“The use of plasma is perfectly safe as it’s one of the four states of matter found in the universe. My aim was to get plasma-treated seeds to germinate faster. I focused the plasma blasts on 9 samples of all 4 types of seeds and for different durations of time as well,” she added.
Her aim is to use these plasma-treated seeds and sell them to farmers to meet the high demand.
Monshaat also chose 18-year-old Miqdad Alnajjad’s project that similarly used seeds as part of his project in field botany. His focus was on wheat and the effective use of nano copper and nano zinc extracted from a source that’s abundant in his region.
“I grew up in the Al-Ahsa region surrounded by farmland. After extensive research, I found that 80 percent of Saudi Arabia’s wheat is imported, as wheat farming has stopped in the Kingdom due to high cost and poor access to freshwater,” said Alnajjad.
“The focus of my study is to promote wheat production that is resistant to heat and dryness by extracting zinc and copper nanoparticles from seaweed and using them in extremely low doses to promote green synthesis of metal nanoparticles.
Alnajjad explained that, using this method, watering plants by using a fairly low amount of water on its leaves will suffice and will also help growth rate and wheat size.
Alnajjad conducted the study with the help of the labs of King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) and put the research into practice with promising results, which suggests it would help to increase wheat production in an arid country with very limited supply to fresh water. “The approach’s effectiveness will lead to more research,” said Alnajjad,
“Research cultivated by Mawhiba and Monshaat will bring forth a new generation of thinkers and researchers that will become pioneers in their fields of study,” said Merdad.