Four undergraduate construction engineering students at the American University of Cairo (AUC) have created a self-luminous concrete, which can absorb sunlight and emit light after dark. Students Fatma Elnefaly, Mayar Khairy, Zainab Mahmoud, and Menna Soliman had sustainability in the forefront as they began their thesis graduation project. Their goal was to find a way to save energy and bypass traditional energy consumption while improving the country’s infrastructure.
“Sustainability is a main theme in this project. This new concrete possesses better appearance and helps reduce the massive amount of energy used in lighting highways or providing illuminated street signals or signs needed for safe rides,” Mohamed Nagib AbouZeid said, professor of construction engineering at AUC, and supervisor of the students’ graduation project. Beyond the sustainability measures, AbouZeid added the glow-in-the-dark concrete would also enhance safety on long stretches of roads and highways in the country.
Photo credit: The American University in Cairo
Zainab Mahmoud, explained one of the many uses for the self-luminous concrete includes lighting roadways and bike paths and foregoing the use of electricity in those spaces, an opportunity that is in congruence with Egypt’s sustainability goals. “The utilization of this material in Egypt in such a context will reduce heavy reliance on electricity and accordingly be an active step towards fighting climate change and saving the environment, which is one of the main goals of COP 27 that Egypt will be hosting this year.”
“The idea of our research originated from wanting to make such an integral construction material like concrete more sustainable and environmentally friendly in both its creation and function,” Mahmoud said. The team understood the harsh environmental impacts associated with concrete and decided to look into new ways to make use of the common building material.
Fatma Elnefaly described the most challenging part of their development process was selecting, obtaining and testing locally used materials in order to ensure they were best meeting the goal of their project. “We needed to test the luminous effect of the selected materials and its effect on the mechanical properties of concrete,” she said.
“This research requires more experiments to provide reliable conclusions to plenty of crucial queries that remain to be answered,” Mayar Khairy said, in regards to the relatively novel research subject.
Earlier this year, the students showcased their work at the Transportation Research Board 101st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Menna Soliman explained that attending the conference allowed them to engage with industry experts and receive valuable advice and recommendations on how to turn their project into a product that can be commercially available in the future.
Professor AbouZeid, who attended the conference with the students in D.C., is optimistic about the direction of this research project and the importance improving and enhancing the production process from the first stage. “Future steps include producing larger quantities as pilot trials to be evaluated on actual field conditions such as a small stretch of a highway,” he said.
Since the thesis project ‘s completion, the four students were awarded the ministry shield by Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar.
Photo credit: The American University in Cairo
All images courtesy of The American University in Cairo
Let’s talk about applying to your first internship. This can be a challenging endeavor for a variety of reasons but like any new experience, there is always an upside. Whether it is the summer before your freshman year or your junior year of college, internships are one of the best ways to gain firsthand experience in your area of interest. Often the people we meet early in our careers are a valuable resource for years to come. Here are a few tips as you put together your summer and fall plans.
Let your personality shine through your resume.
Play with the layout and design of the document. A memorable resume is a great first impression. Don’t be afraid to play with nontraditional elements. Include an “Interests” section if you have unique hobbies.
ACSA’s research shows firm principals hire people who are passionate about their work. Be prepared to share why you are passionate about architecture and design.
Follow your favorite companies on social media.
Companies realize that social media is often the first location for brand interaction. Many companies share their hiring goals on social media for that exact reason. You can learn about the HR department, hear from current employees about their experiences at the firm, get to know the type of projects the firm takes on, and decide if that is the right environment for you.
Google the person who will be interviewing you.
Take a little time and research a few people at the firm. You can start with the people who will be interviewing you or the partners at the firm.
Be ready to ask hard questions. What is their stance on racial and gender inequity? How do they ensure employees get paid equitably? Interviews are just as much for you as they are for them.
Always run spellcheck however if you can send it to a family member or friend, a second set of eyes is always best practice. Architecture is a detail-oriented profession so don’t forget to focus on the details.
Send only 2-3 of your best work examples.
Respect the hiring manager’s time by selecting only the work you are most proud of that showcases a variety of your skills and strengths. Less is more. Files that are too large may be blocked from their server.
Send a thank-you email the following day.
After interviewing with your first-choice company, leave a lasting impression by reaching out and expressing your gratitude.
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