The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s (KAUST’s) Innovation and Economic Development department hosted its largest STEAM Innovation Challenge April 10–12, 2018. More than 300 Saudi university students from 16 universities participated in the intensive ideation program. Entitled “Secure Generation 2030,” and in partnership with Northrop Grumman, the event focused on creating solutions to regional and global challenges in cybersecurity, supply chain localization, and the environment.
Over the course of the three-day challenge, students engaged in mixed interdisciplinary teams to create realistic solutions that could be implemented in Saudi Arabia, and potentially scaled to other countries.
This year’s STEAM Innovation Challenge first-place winner was Wajid, an app to find missing family members and lost pilgrims during Hajj. Second- and third-place winners respectively were Sitlr, an app for parents to protect children from the risks of surfing the internet and ClinTech, an intelligent garbage and waste management service.
Entrepreneurship in the Kingdom: Making Vision 2030 a Reality
Entrepreneurship plays an important role in achieving the economic transformation objectives of Vision 2030. KAUST initiatives such as the STEAM Innovation Challenge inspire young Saudi students to unleash their entrepreneurial potential.
Dr. Kevin Cullen, KAUST Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development, emphasized the importance of academic and industry partnerships in achieving Vision 2030. “Great entrepreneurs come out of strong entrepreneurial ecosystems. The partnership between Northrop Grumman and KAUST demonstrates a commitment to entrepreneurship in the Kingdom.”
Northrop Grumman is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest defense industry partners and is committed to supporting the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals of economic diversification, localization, and knowledge transfer. Mentors from KAUST, Northrop Grumman and other local companies worked closely with the student teams to develop their ideas.
Northrop Grumman’s Chief Executive Middle East, Walid Abukhaled, said, “Any corporation wants the smartest and brightest graduates, but we also need interpersonal skills, presentation skills and teamwork. All of this was on display at the KAUST STEAM Innovation Challenge. It was an amazing group of students, full of energy, and I am convinced that they will make our future bright.”