موقع كوجيتو www.cogito.org هو أحد المواقع التابعة لمركز الموهوبين الخاص بجامعة جونز هوبكنز بمدينة بلتيمور ولاية ميريلاند بأمريكا. ويهدف المركز لفتح مجال للتواصل بين المفكرين والمخترعين الشباب من جميع أنحاء العالم. ويحوي الموقع منتديات مختلفة المواضيع تسمح للاعضاء بالتواصل مع آخرين يملكون نفس الاهتمامات كما ينشر الموقع اخبار الاختراعات والتجارب العلمية التي يجريها العلماء في جميع انحاء العالم كما يحوي العديد من المواد العلمية والمحاضرات التي تفيد المبتدئين في الاختراع والابتكار في عدة مجالات.
ويستخدم مركز الموهوبين بجامعة جونز هوبكنز هذا الموضع كوسيلة تواصل مع الطلبة والطالبات الذين سبق لهم وان التحقوا ببرامجهم الصيفية حيث يتبادل الاعضاء الخبرات والافكار والتجارب التي يمرون بها ويوجد عدد من الخبراء من جامعة جونز هوبكنز ممن يجيبون على تساؤلات المبتكرين والمخترعين بهدف نشر ثقافة البحث العلمي والابتكار في المجتمع الأمريكي بشكل خاص وحتى العالم بشكل عام فبرامج الموهوبين في جامعة جونز هوبكنز ليست قصرا على الامريكان بل تحرص الجامعة على استقطاب الطلبة والطالبات الموهوبين من شتى انحاء العالم.
وقد سنحت اثناء الصيف الماضي فرصة لتناول طعام الغداء مع د كريستي المتخصصة في اثر التكنولوجيا واستخداماتها في التعليم وهي احد المحررين في الموقع وتحدثت معها عن معرض ابتكار 2010 الذي سبق وأن كتبت عنه مقالتين في المدونة
فتحمست كريستي للموضوع واجرت مقابلتين عن معرض ابتكار أولها مع الفريق الفائز بالجائزة الأولى في ابتكار 2010 لتصميمه برنامجا يستخدم الحقيقة التخيلية لمعالجة الاطفال المصابين بسرطان الدم والثاني كان معي كأحد اعضاء لجنة التحكيم في ابتكار 2010 وسعدت حقا لان اسم بلدي اضيف في هذا الموقع المميز من خلال اختراع مفيد للانسانية من عمل 5 سيدات من ابناء الوطن ويمكن الوصول للمقابلة مع الفريق الفائز من خلال الرابط:
Saudi Arabian Team Creates Virtual Reality Game for Children with Cancer
by Kristi Birch
This year marked the second year of Ibtikar, a innovation and invention competition organized by The King Abdul Aziz and His Companions Foundation for Talent and Creativity, also known as Mawhiba, in Saudi Arabia. Ibtikar is open to inventors from all ages and from other countries as well. Inventors submitted proposals, and over 100 were selected to participate in the convention exhibition held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where judges spent four days narrowing down the top three winners. The projects covered areas such as nanotechnology, energy and environmental protection, medicine and pharmacology, engineering, water desalination, information technology, and telecommunications.
This first-place project was a virtual reality game for children with blood cancer. The game, created by 5 young women with computer science degrees, aims to help children cope with cancer treatment and aid in their recovery. Cogito interviewed team member Sahar Asiri about the project and the process of competition.
Image: A screenshot from the virtual reality game.
What led up to your entering the Ibtikar competition?
We had several reasons to enter the Ibtikar competition. The most important reason was to find financial supporters for the project idea and to make the project applicable in a way that would benefit humanity. In addition, we wanted to share our thoughts with society, since this exhibition gathered people from all over the world. Finally, we had a big desire to reach out universally because we represent our country. We have entered many competitions and won many prizes for our work.
Your project is a virtual reality project that teaches kids how to deal with chemotherapy, right? Please describe your project and how it works.
Yes, our virtual environment provides vivid graphics mixed with voice and motion that enables the child to participate in a variety of physical and visual interactions. This virtual reality can be used to urge children with leukemia to accept chemotherapy. This system includes a game in virtual reality. The sick child enters this game and tries to pass through stages one after the other by destroying cancer cells.
This system has an active role in the treatment of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It helps to distract the patient from pain associated with chemotherapy. So it helps to relieve pain, and it also helps to build positive images in the patient’s subconscience so he or she can overcome the disease. Moreover, leukemia treatment requires patients to stay in the hospital for long periods of time with complete isolation, which can lead the child to develop mental disorders. Virtual reality provides to the patient a secure form of entertainment that helps improve his or her psychological state. That positively affects the response to chemotherapy treatment because it makes the patient forget about being in the hospital.
How did you choose your project?
This project was our senior graduate project in the Computer Science department. We preferred to do a technical project that would benefit society. We tried very hard to find a new area in the computer field, so we selected virtual reality technology in medicine. We received guidance in selecting this project from our project advisor. We were aware of the difficulties that would be associated with this project, but we still insisted on this new idea.
Did you have a mentor?
Yes, our advisor was Dr. Wadee Al-halabi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the Technical College. The team that worked on the project consisted of Sahar Aseeri, Rasha Al-melaik, Raniah Al-malki, Abeer Al-salmi, and Fatemah Zamzami.
What are you studying in school?
We (my group and I) have graduated with bachelor degrees from the Computing and Information Systems in the Computer Science Department at Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Were you nervous competing against older adults with more experience?
To be honest, I was not nervous. I felt proud of being chosen among 800 inventors to enter this competition. And my main goal was to deliver the project idea and find financial support to complete it. Winning, to me and to my group, was a dream that came true. I was surprised by that because there were a lot of great competitive inventions, but I thank God for this achievement.
What was the judging process like?
Judging varied from one judge to another. We were judged by eight people. We had to demonstrate the project as a whole and in detail. Additionally, we had to display what was new and illustrate the process of selecting the idea. We also had to show the results we have received and show how they were published at local and international conferences, and the kind of assistance we had received from medical doctors, etc.
Other judges were concerned with the way we presented our ideas, our thoughts for the future, whether we intend to complete the project or stop, and whether we participated just for the sake of winning the prize or to continue the project.
From my point of view, all these questions were testing the ambition of participants. In general the judges were trustworthy and I felt very happy and comfortable with their admiration for our idea.
What do you plan to do with the money you won?
Our plan is to use this money to complete the project if we do not find support to complete the project.
Will you enter this competition again? Are you competing in other competitions?
Yes, we will try to enter other competitions, but after the completion of the project, the purpose of our participation in future competitions will not be to win again, but to introduce this idea to society to help in treating many diseases, not just cancer. We have entered three other competitions, as I have mentioned, and have also attained a first-place prize.
What’s next for your project? Are you having your game patented?
We have applied for a patent, and the process is still ongoing. In the next year, we would like to work on the following ideas:
الموضوع الثاني في موقع كوجيتو كان مقابلة شخصية بصفتي احد اعضاء لجنة التحكيم وهذا ما جاء في تلك المقابلة:
Cogito Conversation: Nazeeh Alothmany, Judge at Ibtikar Competition
by Kristi Birch
Cogito, 11.12.2010 Nazeeh Alothmany is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (biomedical option) at King Abdulaziz University, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He earned a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in electrical and biomedical engineering. This year, he was asked to be a judge at Ibtikar, a week-long competition and exhibition for inventors held in Jeddah. Ibtikar is organized by The King Abdul Aziz and His Companions Foundation for Talent and Creativity, also known as Mawhiba, in Saudi Arabia.(Read Cogito’s interview with the winning team.) Cogito caught up with Dr. Alothmany and asked him some questions about the event.
Image: Group photo of inventors who participated in Ibtikar 2010.
Tell us a little about Ibtikar and its history.
Ibtikar is an Arabic word for invention. Basically, Ibtikar is a big convention for inventors from all over Saudi Arabia and other countries. The first Ibtikar was held in 2008. This year, 2010, was the second year, and the hope is to have it every two years. First, inventors submit proposals for their inventions. There is a committee that goes over these proposals and chooses the top hundred or so, and then they all come to the exhibition and display their products and ideas. The event is advertised and there is much publicity in the hopes that investors will come and see these inventions, and that some of them will end up in the market. In addition to investors, Ibtikar invited patent offices in the Arab world and Gulf region and Europe to come and give seminars and explain the patenting process. There was also a society of inventors from Europe that came, as well as a society of inventors from the Middle East. Ibtikar is a one-week program for inventors from many parts of the world to get together and share their ideas and experience and talk about available resources.
In addition to this, there is a series of trainings and workshops related to inventions, patenting, creative thinking, research methodology robotics that are tailored that are given for different age levels. The objective of these workshops is to promote innovation and inventions kind of thinking starting for middle school and high school. Most of the inventors were new, and many of them were young, so this was a good chance for them to exchange their ideas with people from other parts of the world.
So middle- and high-school students could come present their work but it was not limited to them?
No, it was open to all ages. And students could also just attend to meet these inventors and to participate in workshops on invention and creativity so they will get introduced to innovation and creativity and patenting from an early age. If one of them has a creative idea, then hopefully, through a workshop, they can learn how begin to translate it into a prototype.
That’s really cool. You helped with the judging. When you were judging, what did you look for?
There were many things. The things that I personally look for were the motivation for the idea, plus the methodology used in translating that idea into something that could work. Does it actually solve a problem, or is it something just luxurious? Some inventions, people could live without, but some really solve a problem. So I tried to find the difference. Plus, you have to see the prototype, how it was implemented, and what the success rate was. What are the areas for improvement or what are the weaknesses of the invention? These are all things I look for.
So how long does it take to make a decision? How did the judging process work?
There were 118 inventions. Each invention was judged by 4 different people. There is form that has rubrics, marks and grades. Each project was judged 4 times. Every judge gives a score to a project. We identified the top 20 projects and then we had a big meeting where judges sat down together to pick the top 10 and then the top 5 and then the top 3. We did that in 4 days. We went from 8 in the morning to 9 at night. And we announced the winners in final ceremony. It was an intense process to find the top 3.
There were a few international societies that have also given awards for inventors like certificates of appreciation and plaques. There was also another competition for one side of the Ibtikar had to do with independent inventors; another side had to do with university research. And there were four areas: Energy, Disalination, Information Technology, Medicine. There was also an award for each of these areas.
Are you an inventor yourself?
Not yet, but hopefully I will be soon. I’m working on a device that could help people with diabetic foot. People with diabetes have trouble with circulation and sometimes amputation results, so we are trying to come up with a device that will help with treatment and improve circulation.
Cogito has interviewed the winning team. But there must have been plenty of interesting inventions there that didn’t win. Could you tell us about one of those?
There was a computer software invention that helps instructors deliver course materials. Cell phones are coming out with RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology. An instructor would register the cell phone numbers of the class members, so whenever a student comes in, there’s a program on the instructor’s laptop that would take the attendance automatically. So when you enter a class with a cell, it automatically says you’re in. And it opens a channel of communication between an instructor and a student, where a student who doesn’t want to talk loudly would just send a text message that would appear on the instructor’s laptop. The instructor could put multiple choice questions on the board, and students could use their cell phones to answer, and computer would gather all these answers and grade them immediately. It’ was a creative software idea.
Did any inventors find investors for their projects?
I don’t know yet, but I sure hope so. Everyone who came in to convention was thinking it’s fun, let’s try to see what’s going on. Nobody thought it would be serious, that they would be real, thought there might be games and stuff. But when they go around the booths, they saw this is real work, these are serious inventions. Tens of thousands came in 5-6 days. Schools poured in. attendance increased exponentially, so I think that was a good push in that direction, motivating people to think. Many people have ideas but don’t have energy to translate ideas into something; hopefully through this week of invention, more people will be feeling the urge to do something about their ideas and translate them into something that works. It’s not easy, but that’s the challenge.
What advice do you have for other inventors?
Don’t undermine your ability; find credible sources and people who could help you in translating your idea into a prototype. There are a lot of people who may think you’re incapable but the world needs people who have the courage to translate idea into action. Theory is fun and nice but if you can’t move from theory to practice you can’t help people. Go for it!