In a wonderful breakthrough moment for Arab students in Israel, three Israeli Arabs have won a place at the Young Engineers’ Conference, a competition for Israeli high school students to step forward with the best idea and prototype for a high-tech start-up.
No Arab team has ever won at this annual conference.
The teammates attend Bustan El-Marj Sci-Tech High School, which is a part of the ORT Sci-Tech network of high schools, an organization that works to provide science education to children from diverse backgrounds, but it still lacks much of the resources available to similar schools located in Jewish communities.
The team had originally wanted to build a robot that would enter a fire and fight it.
Lacking necessary resources, they scaled back the project to one involving an app for firefighters to locate the nearest fire hydrant and the shortest route to the fire.
In spite of having limited access to the Internet, Arab Israeli student Tamim Zoabi knew that winning the high school entrepreneurs competition for best high-tech startup idea would give them access to a university education through a coveted scholarship.
Tamim’s team app consisted of a 3-D diorama showing a neighborhood with a toy fire truck. On the day of the conference, the app was in competition with a helmet that manipulates brain waves to reduce depression and a prototype of a robot designed to detect mines, a system for monitoring abdominal aneurysms and an automatic-transmission bicycle among other innovative concepts. (JTA)
When the results were announced, Tamim and teammates Ruaa Omari and Masar Zoabi (not related) won third place and a partial university scholarship.
With great surprise and joy, Tamim said, “I’m always impressed by new things, technology, machines.”
Tamim’s father drives a tow truck; Omari’s is a handyman; and Masar’s father died this year.
How could Tamim and his team from a poor Arab village in northern Israel with only patchy access to the Internet beat the odds?
Masar compared their app to the famous Israeli created GPS app Waze saying, “Waze helps people get to places they don’t know. The hydrant might be next door, or around the back, and they won’t find it. This will show them the way.” (HaAretz)