Humanitarian designs a big hit in Toronto 

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On Sunday May 4th, Dr. Sawsan Abdul-Majid and her SIGHT team from IEEE Region 7 (Canada) hosted the final event of a student design competition. Dr. Abdul-Majid is an dynamic SIGHT volunteer at both the Region 7 level, and in Ottawa where she is a research associate at the university of Ottawa and a founding member of the Ottawa SIGHT.

This year marks the third time a student humanitarian competition has been held in conjunction with the Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE). As a part of CCECE 2014, both graduate and undergraduate student projects were invited to present their design and research on an engineering project that will help humanity.

Of the 9 student and 3 young professional papers accepted to the conference, 5 were able to attend the CCECE conference to present. The judging panel declared Ryerson University’s paper on “Assistive Technology for Powered Wheelchair Users” the winner; they will be sponsored through a grant obtained from the SIGHT Fellowship program to attend the the International Humanitarian Technology Conference in Montreal.

By promoting Humanitarian Technology principles to students, the Region 7 SIGHT leadership aims to increase the general awareness on the relevance of this research in their academic pursuits; it also provides an invaluable source of new ideas that can be used by SIGHTs globally in their activities.

This effort reflects the commitment of volunteers in Region 7 to the success of the SIGHT program, as it was reported in a recent article in the IEEE Canadian Review:
Most regions have ad hoc humanitarian activities. “IEEE Canada is unique in the sense that from the beginning we decided to create a standing committee for a humanitarian program at the regional level,” […] “We believe IEEE is a strong potential task force of volunteers for solving community problems.” “The program aims to inspire, enable and connect IEEE members, especially those who want to use their engineering skills to give back to the community, but don’t know how to get involved,” […] IEEE Canada had an early start in its humanitarian efforts. Dr. Ferial El-Hawary, chair of the IEEE Canada Humanitarian Initiatives Committee, was president when the Region created both its ad hoc and standing committees, the latter being unique to the IEEE as a whole.

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