A few years ago, the government presented a new educational curriculum based on interactive learning, workshops and projects that empowered students and helped in generating highly qualified youth who are capable of entering both the local and international labor market.
Despite the ongoing challenges that educational entities have faced in the past that hindered their development, it is evident that Egypt is overwhelmed with talented youth in all fields, whether science, engineering, art or media.
Support from the state has been seen towards significant scientific projects. The Academy of Scientific Research and Technology allocated an amount of 228,070 EGP to fund the best nine graduation projects presented by Minya University students, where the selected projects were all related to solar energy and nanotechnology with its various applications.
World of Science
“Break in Point” Project
The “Break In Point” is a robotic project that was ranked seventh among 18 teams from various public and private universities in a competition organized by the Faculty of Military Art for UGVC Robotics. The robot was designed by a team from the Faculty of Engineering of Mansoura University, who designed and implemented a solar powered robot capable of moving on rugged and rocky territory.
“Our main concern was the handicapped community. We wanted to do something to help them earn their living. The robot carries out the maintenance of equipment and is controlled by cameras within one kilometer, and it is also capable of performing the same human hand movements,” says Mahmoud, one of the team members.
Nanotechnology for Cancer Therapy
Egypt was gifted the honor of scientific excellence when the Egyptian student Nancy Tawfiq from the Faculty of Biotechnology at the Modern Science and Arts University was selected as one of the top ten students to participate in the Conference of Young Scientists in Paris.
“I was ecstatic when I was selected along with two other students to continue our graduation projects abroad for three months. I felt that this was the first step towards success,” she said. “I felt so honored and proud of my country when it was selected as one of the best worldwide,” she continues.
“The main idea of the project is to use nanotechnology for cancer therapy. We were a team of three, however, my part was based on the development of smart materials using nanotechnology in connection with cancer cell therapy to solely target infected cells without affecting other healthy ones, in order to reduce the consequential symptoms related to treating cancer patients like hair loss and fatigue,” explains Tawfiq. “I deeply grieved for the loss of my friend’s mother, which motivated me to find a way for cancer therapy without the pain that comes with treatment,” she mentions.
Tawfiq was honored by Dr. Nawal el Degwui, President of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, the Minister of Higher Education, who both felt that she will change the history of cancer in Egypt. As a gesture of state support to distinguished students, the Minister of Higher Education gave her a scholarship to any country of her choice as well as to be appointed in any oncology hospital she wishes to be a part of.
World of Art
Moving from the world of science and pragmatism to the world of imagination and visual creations, we met many talented students in the Faculty of Fine Arts.
An oil painting that embodies five beautiful young ladies grabbed our attention as the artist succeeded to personify each character.
“The period given to all graduation projects was 30 days during the month of Ramadan, so I was working around 12 hours per day,” says artist Ehab Ezzo. “A lot of preparation goes into these paintings. Firstly, I had to select my models who were actually my colleagues. Secondly, we had to determine their pose and their clothing, as well as take photos and then put them on a sketch and start painting,” he explains.
“The project is called ‘Aphrodite’, after the goddess of beauty mentioned in Greek history. I am mainly concerned about beauty and I was keen to choose distinguished ladies, each with their own personality, complexion and skin color. I intended to show grievance and wandering in their look, which represents my status at that time. I am planning to display my project at the Mahmoud Mokhtar exhibition,” he continues.
Ezzo participated in a lot of competitions and has always been encouraged by his school to develop his talent. “When I was in primary, I was awarded a prize in a competition organized by UNESCO and the Egyptian Ministry of Education,” he says.
As for his future ambitions, Ezzo concludes, “I have been working as a freelance decoration engineer, and I have pages on social media that present my artwork. I have also participated in several exhibitions inside and outside of the university, so I am planning to develop the private business which I have already started.”
“El Khanka” Project
Ahmed Al Ansary’s masterpiece was ranked first in the oil painting division. His passion towards art started since he was a child, as he was inspired by his siblings whom, along with his school teachers, helped and encouraged him to develop his skills.
“All the subjects we studied were beneficial, for example, the sculpting class taught us how to deal with both flat shapes and 3D. From the anatomy course, we learned the shape of muscles upon contraction and expansion, the various proportions and sizes as well as in drawing the lines and the complexion of the face when we show emotion,” explains Ansary.
When asked whether the faculty of Arts shows any restrictions when it comes to what artists paint, he says, “We are free to choose any idea we like, where the faculty’s main role is to supervise our projects on a daily basis, and provide us with some remarks. Moreover, they give us the chance to present our graduation projects in exhibitions, giving us more exposure.”
“As for the idea of the project, I believe in the theory that says that every person has some sort of inner madness, and if the level of madness exceeds a specific percentage, the person becomes abnormal or insane. I visualized the mental hospital in my project as if it is the world we live in, where the doctor looks crazy, while the person in a wheel chair, though paralyzed, is the only normal person among them. I have also added many unrelated objects like placing on the table a plate of rotten fish and oranges, newspapers and wine emphasizing the message that we are living in an irrational world, and the best achievement for a person is to remain rational and well-balanced,” he continues.
Ansary participated in many art exhibitions, like the 27th Youth Salon Exhibition – Ebda3 El Shareka. He also worked as a designer in a textile and carpet factories, as well as creating wall and ceiling paintings for different buildings.
“I believe that there are vast employment opportunities in the market, yet my ambition is to paint with my hands and grow my academic career,” he concludes.
“Noah’s Ship” Project
Another outstanding oil piece of art titled “Noah’s Ship” by artist Radwa Atwa highlights the idea of “a new beginning” in a very creative way. Atwa believes that art is important in all fields, especially engineering. She also enjoyed studying anatomy, where her passion was reflected in her creative stereogram painting of animals.
“The idea of the project is based on my own imagination and is not derived from any other source. I wanted to stray away from ideas related to psychological problems like loneliness and isolation, so I decided to introduce the theme “A New Beginning”, explains Atwa.
“The end of any evil deed or corruption can be seen as a new beginning, and every difficult situation that any person passes through must end one day. That is why I have placed all animals in a ship that is symbolic to the people who survived in the real story of Noah’s Ark, which showed that kindness and good pervail,” she continues.
Atwa has a lot of ambitions for her future. “I am already working in a newspaper, but I am looking forward to establishing my own gallery where I can present my own artwork,” she concludes.
A Project Comparing Civilizations
Moving from oil paintings to the world of sculptors, Menna Ahmed created a project that focused on the Indian culture compared to that of the Pharaohs, emphasizing that those civilizations were based on meditation and science. “Both cultures are fervent for hunting yet respecting animals, for example, the high value of bears and their spiritual meanings is present in both cultures,” she explains.
“After sketching the idea, I have to make a wire mesh which takes around a week before forming the paste and spraying it with water, and then adding polyester or gypsum casting,” continues Ahmed.
“I realized that sculpturing was the course I enjoyed most at an early age as it enhanced my observation skills, allowing me to feel the shape, lines and size of each object I create. Moreover, I was able to improve my creativity and I realized the value of scientific research in the art of sculpture,” the young sculptor mentions.
When asked about the evaluation process, she comments, “The committee included around 20 professors from different art faculties in Egypt, where each one evaluated the projects separately, therefore, decisions were taken separately, eliminating any chance of bias.”
“Alexandria Bibliotheca Planetarium” Project
The art of stained glass requires patience, accuracy and an artistic skill to visualize an appropriate design, as well as engineering knowledge to assemble the pieces together and fit them into the designed space. We met with Moshera Al Mahdy to find out more about this art, which she used in her project “Alexandria Bibliotheca Planetarium” that revolves around horoscopes.
“There is a lot of pre-work that should be done before implementation, like drafting several patterns and sketches in order to ensure that each piece fits together. I chose to use horoscopes as I read a lot about them, and in the project, I created a new symbol for each – for example, a girl pouring water out of a pot represents Aquarius, and at the same time, two fish are coming out of it, which symbolizes Pisces,” she explains.
“Actually, using stained glass in the project took a lot of time and effort, as I have to craft the colored glass into the stained glass in which small pieces are arranged to form the pattern I designed on a sketch, and then the colored glass is held together with strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame,” she concludes.
World of Media and Communications
Going deeper into the world of artistic creations, we have chosen the Faculty of Mass Communication at Misr International University as one of the examples for a unique educational system provided by highly qualified professors and experts.
A Short Movie on Psychological Illnesses
Engy Magdy, who graduated this year from the Radio and TV Department, was determined to apply to this field as she believes that it is a chance to be in direct interaction with people.
“Disturbance”, the title of Madgy’s short Arabic film, holds more than one meaning – “It was difficult to find a creative idea that can be reflected in ten minutes. The film talks about newly married couples where one of the husbands suffers from a split personality as well as an addiction to drugs, but he is unconscious of his illness,” she explains.
The main message was to show the consequences of drugs that can destroy a whole family, as well as shedding light on the difference between having a “split personality” and Schizophrenia. The film ends with a scene of the wife leaving home at the same moment as the drugs dealer and her husband arrive to find a knife full of blood. The end was left open to interpretation.
“Some of the challenges I came across included deciding whether to cast famous or amateur actors. Due to my tight schedule, I decided to get an amateur but talented group, then the next obstacle was finding appropriate shooting locations,” Magdy mentions.
When asked about any restrictions that are placed upon them, she mentions that the students are only not allowed to talk about gays or homosexuals.
“I believe that entering the media labor market is difficult, where having contacts and building up a strong network is essential. We have gained many skills and knowledge in all related fields like script writing, research, magazine design, video editing and directing, as well as experience from the evaluation of our graduation projects and films. These are all assets that can open up opportunities for us,” she says.
At the end of our tour, we discovered that universities in Egypt, whether public or private, include a full generation of young scientists, intellectuals and inventors who deserve more attention, support and guidance to allow them to implement these projects in the market and enable them to develop and contribute to the society.