Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence
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15 April 2022 ∙ NEWS

Students award-winning AI-powered energy reduction solution

A team of four MBZUAI students have taken top honors at Cisco's 'Power the Future: The Cisco Sustainability Challenge' with an AI-based residential demand response program that embraces the UAE's strategy for cleaner energy in the future. Held in the final week of Expo 2020 in Dubai, the nation-wide competition invited university students to share how technology can accelerate the sustainability agenda and measure its impact.

The first placed team consisted of MBZUAI master's of machine learning students Nicolás Cuadrado, Akbobek Abilkaiyrkyzy, Shahad Hardan, and Alejandro Gutiérrez. Each of the team members received a six-month mentorship program from Cisco technology experts, who will help further develop the project 'Energy for the People' and get it closer to a final product or startup phase. MBZUAI fielded four teams in total that made it into the final round.

Solving national challenges

Each team was tasked with identifying a challenge; designing a solution that leverages the latest technology; and measuring the solution's impact.

MBZUAI student teams proposed solutions in one of four thematic areas related to sustainability—mobility, buildings, utilities, and citizen services and governance.

The teams presented their proposals at the Cisco Grove at Expo 2020 Dubai on March 24, 2022 to a jury of technology, sustainability and business experts. Following the development of a prototype solution, the top five innovators presented a second time, this time detailing their operating model, an architecture of the solution, and a financial analysis.

“For the Cisco Sustainability Challenge, we are leveraging our tools and expertise to empower the youth, push the boundaries of innovation and bring our sustainable future to life,” Adele Trombetta, Vice President of Customer Experience at Cisco Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia, said.


Energy for the People

The winning project 'Energy for the People' aims to achieve a substantial balance improvement in the national energy grid by harnessing the data generated by residential energy consumers.

"Consumers would be able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by using an AI-based rewarding system to motivate energy efficiency and implement sustainable solutions to achieve climate goals," Cuadrado said.

"Since the energy used to power residential buildings account for a high percentage of total consumption, the involvement of the public plays a critical role in achieving the strategy. The continuous effort made by the government can be further supported by implementing such a residential demand response program. In the era of artificial intelligence, smart solutions have proven higher efficiencies in several sectors, including sustainable energy."

Why it's important to reduce energy consumption

According to the United Nations (UN), households consume 29 percent of global energy and consequently contribute to 21 percent of resultant CO2 emissions. This is arguably higher in the UAE due to hotter temperatures and increased demand due to an expanding population. According to PwC, cooling buildings represents about 70% of the peak electricity load in the GCC. The main objectives of the UAE's Energy Strategy 2050 are to reduce carbon footprint by 70% and increase clean energy consumption by 50%, thus saving AED 700 billion by 2050.

MBZUAI finalist teams

Three additional MBZUAI student teams were invited to take part in the final round of the competition. The teams presented solutions in a number of thematic areas.

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Master's of machine learning students Faris Almalik, Mohammad Atwany, Abdulwahab Sahyoun, and Abdallah Abujami presented 'Cosmental: An AI-powered mental-health platform.'

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Master's of computer vision students Kahled Dawoud, Adnan Khan, and Umaima Rahman presented 'GoEco: Smart transportation system.'

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Master's of machine learning students Mugariya Farooq, Karima Kadaoui, Sarah AlBarri, Svetlana Maslenkova, and Ariana Venegas presented 'SPEARTH: Where sport meets Earth.'



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