By David Murphy
Muhammad Hussain, KAUST professor of electrical engineering and PI of the MMH Labs, was recently chosen as one of six finalists in the KAUST Community COVID-19 Innovation Challenge. The event, organized by KAUST Innovation and Economic Development, sought to generate community-driven solutions to challenges faced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Out of 101 submitted ideas—which covered areas such as education, social connectivity, health, and community management—Hussain’s adaptive technology for distant learning design received $20,000 in prize funding to take his project to market. His winning project, reviewed by a panel of 16 judges from across the university over two rounds, was successfully pitched live to KAUST Leadership and the community on Sunday, June 14, 2020.
“The inspiration for the project stems from the remote learning challenges encountered by my team during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hussain noted.
This projects aims to build and provide a fully immersive adaptive learning experience combining content variations of the same learning module/topic like found in streaming media,” he explained. “While also offering real-time multi-user meetings and collaborations and virtual access to laboratories both off and online.”
“In terms of potential long-range contributions to distance learning, we are addressing several challenges including but not limited to: an offline console to support learning for those who don’t have continuous access to high-speed internet; an “engaging everyone” template with creative crowd-sourced content, and a gaming console-like environment in which to collaborate and conduct intuitive testing.”
Moving forward, The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, Technology Transfer teams, and other KAUST departments will continue to lend support to the development of Hussain’s adaptive tech project.
“All the finalists have received $20,000 in prize funding, which I am using to demonstrate a scaled-down version of the project. I have been working with several teachers from The KAUST School, where we will use Grade-7 STEM courses as an example learning module. We expect to demonstrate it before this calendar year ends.”
“In today's meme-obsessed society, we would love to see a similar passion for constructive and collaborative learning,” Hussain emphasized. “I am zealously hopeful and fully confident that the concept will present a new, fully engaged, enhanced learning experience. And I know with certainty that it will not be just another virtual learning platform.”