Science & Tech


Members from the McLaren Group attended the University's 2019 Winter Enrichment Program, speaking about KAUST and McLaren's ongoing extreme performance research partnership. Image courtesy of the McLaren Group.

The theme of the University's 2019 Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) was "time." It represented an opportune moment for KAUST to welcome members of the McLaren Group to campus to discuss the recently signed extreme performance research partnership between KAUST and McLaren.

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(From left to right:) Abdullah AlRamadan (Ph.D. student); Eshan Singh (Ph.D. student); Hong Im (KAUST faculty); John Cooper (McLaren); Ahfaz Ahmed (Ph.D. student); Vijai Shankar Bhavani Shankar (Ph.D. student); Mani Sarathy (KAUST faculty); and Jonathan Neale (McLaren) are pictured here at the McLaren Technology Center. File photo.

In the world of Formula 1 racing, the difference between the quickest driver or the fastest car and the team finishing last comes down to mere fractions of a second per lap. Over the course of an average race of 70 laps, this means a gap of one to two minutes. Those crucial few hundredths of a second that make all the difference are the result of many things: the aerodynamics of the vehicle; the weight of the car; race strategy; the driver; the tires; and the fuel composition.

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The Red Sea—particularly south of the Gulf of Aqaba and along the Saudi Arabian coast—has been vastly unexplored and little is known about its biodiversity. The establishment of KAUST within the last decade has been transformational in terms of beginning the process of gathering vital data over time. As the largely unspoiled coastal areas of the Red Sea are being developed with a future focus on eco-tourism, it has become increasingly important to catalogue its ecosystem's various inhabitants that make up its biodiversity.

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“Tropical marine ecosystems are under mounting anthropogenic pressure from overfishing and habitat destruction, leading to declines in their structure and function on a global scale,” said Associate Professor of Marine Science Michael Berumen from the KAUST Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) in a paper co-authored with colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

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“One of the most important things about corals isn’t that they’re beautiful—it’s the fact that they are essential in building ecosystems. They’re basically a foundation species,” said Manuel Aranda, KAUST assistant professor of marine science.

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Smart cities use digital technologies to efficiently measure and manage limited energy resources.

“2009 marked the first time in history that more than 50% of the world’s population lived in cities. It’s expected that by 2030 we’ll see the urban population grow from today’s 3.5 billion to 4.7 billion,” said Rainer Speh, chief technology officer (CTO) at Siemens Ltd, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He recently shared this data with a group of KAUST students and scientists as part of a Saudi Initiatives Company Day held at the University.

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"Our eyes are the equivalent of two cameras," says KAUST Electrical Engineering Assistant Professor, Bernard Ghanem. Much like cameras, human beings essentially record video. We then process these images we intake to make decisions in our day-to-day lives. We know, for example, to stay away from a barking dog, not to touch a hot stove or not to walk onto unsafe surfaces. What if we could teach machines how to do the same thing? In fact, that's what computer vision and machine learning are all about – inputting visual stimuli, classifying the information and making a decision.

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Photo taken by Tane Sinclair-Taylor

"About 150 kilometres of Jeddah's coastline has become useless for sea creatures. If the level of pollution is not controlled or treated then the Kingdom will soon have to import fish and shrimps to meet its demands," warned Dr. Ahmad Ashour from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment Protection (PMEP), when speaking to local Saudi media in the past year.

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At the onset of the 1990s, an international scientific endeavour known as the Human Genome Project set out to map the sequence of human DNA. Once the human genome sequencing was successfully completed in 2003, scientists around the world had access to an unprecedented database, or roadmap, to understand our molecular constitution, mechanisms and development.

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