AUC holds Centennial Nights celebration

Sama Osama , Tuesday 18 Feb 2020

The event was part of AUC Centennial Celebration Week, which marks the university's hundred-year history

AUC

On Monday night, the American University in Cairo (AUC) kicked off its Centennial Nights celebration at AUC Park and Square on its New Cairo campus.

The event was part of AUC Centennial Celebration Week, which marks the university's hundred-year history.

The event featured a talk by co-founder and CEO of Affectiva Rana El-Kaliouby on artificial intelligence, the opening of the “Future Design and Design Future” exhibition, a 3D mapping experience on AUC portal and a fireworks show.

AUC graduate discusses pioneering tech work

Co-founder and CEO of Affectiva Rana El-Kaliouby giving a talk in Malak Gabr Arts Theater, AUC New C
Co-founder and CEO of Affectiva Rana El-Kaliouby giving a talk in Malak Gabr Arts Theater, AUC New Cairo

AUC trustee Rana El-Kaliouby, who was named amongst World’s Top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes in 2018, shared with the audience at the packed Malak Gabr Arts Theatre, as well as dozens of other attendees watching the live-streamed talk in the plaza outside the theatre, her journey as an AI thought leader, and how her company Affectiva became an innovator and pioneer of "emotion AI."

In her talk, El-Kaliouby shed light on the importance of female role models for girls in technology, vowing to pay it forward and support young entrepreneurs, especially young women, who are interested in pursuing a career in technology.

El-Kaliouby praised the liberal arts education provided by AUC which, according to her, assists in formulating a more human-centric and ethical approach to technology, enabling it to realise its full potential and ridding it of any biases.

“Those early ideas I learnt at AUC continued to influence my thinking as a thought leader in AI," she said.

El-Kaliouby talked about how she built the first-ever machine that can translate facial movements into facial expression codes to make emotional inferences.

The Emotion AI technology developed by El-Kaliouby enables computers to understand non-verbal communication through AI.

The technology detects your face in real time, tracks your facial expressions, and maps it to an emo
The technology detects your face in real time, tracks your facial expressions, and maps it to an emotional state, El-Kaliouby explained (Photo: Affectiva)

El-Kaliouby emphasised one of the most important applications of her technology, in mental health.

She explained that the self-data provided by mental health patients are usually quite subjective; the application of AI in mental health can help quantify people’s feelings.

She also highlighted how Affectiva’s software combined with Google glasses has been helping people on the autism spectrum comprehend non-verbal communication by understanding how facial expressions correspond to emotions.

The smart glasses, according to El-Kaliouby, have been deployed in more than 400 homes and schools, helping autistic children communicate better and process signals.

Rana El-Kaliouby with Q&A moderator Abdelhameed Sharara
Rana El-Kaliouby with Q&A moderator Abdelhameed Sharara

Following her talk there was a brief Q&A session moderated by Abdelhameed Sharara, co-founder and CEO of the RiseUp Summit.

Sharara asked El-Kaliouby about the challenges she faced as a female tech entrepreneur abroad.

According to her, her biggest challenge was when she and Rosalind Picard, the co-founder of Affectiva, were trying to commercialise the technology.

She explained that there were zero businesswomen in the field to pitch ideas to, and it was really challenging for them as two female scientists presenting an “emotion” AI technology to find investors in a male-dominated field.

Opening of design exhibition

The “Future Design and Design Future” exhibition at Sharjah Art Gallery, AUC New Cairo
The “Future Design and Design Future” exhibition at Sharjah Art Gallery, AUC New Cairo

The Centennial Nights celebration also saw the opening of the “Future Design and Design Future” exhibition at the Sharjah Art Gallery.

The exhibition features design projects created by AUC design students over the past five years, as well as rising designers and projects in Egypt and the region.

It also features some selected design projects from the American University in Sharjah (AUS).

The exhibition focuses on five purposes of design: sustainability, re-imagining/ revival of cultural heritage, social equality and impact, education, and future experiences.

A ‘sustainability’ design project by AUS graduate Mariem El-Ashmawy which involves recycling paper i
A ‘sustainability’ design project by AUS graduate Mariem El-Ashmawy which involves recycling paper in Zabaleen district creating profitable products. The project aims to both protect the environment through recycling and to help the people of Zabaleen financially


Toroz, a project by Lobna Kamel to revive the Egyptian culture through fashion, providing local alte
Toroz, a project by Lobna Kamel to revive the Egyptian culture through fashion, providing local alternatives for foreign designs, as well as reviving crafts and empowering women in regions like Siwa and Sohag


A multi-sensory dining experience project by Nora AbuShadi
A multi-sensory dining experience project by Nora AbuShadi


The exhibition will be open to the public during working hours until 5 March.

Strategic plan for the next chapter

In his remarks prior to the 3D Mapping Experience, the chairman of AUC’s Board of Trustees, Richard Bartlett, said that the planning for the centennial celebrations actually began in 1994.

“In that year, the AUC board created a strategic planning group called ‘the century committee’ to look ahead and develop a vision for the university when it turns a hundred,” Bartlett said.

“Earlier today, we kicked off a new strategic plan to consider the campus needs for the next chapter of the university’s evolution,” Bartlett added. "This will be an inclusive process, and I hope that we will have input from many of you.”

According to Bartlett, the main focus in the upcoming period is to have a university open to all without regard to race, religion, gender or nationality.

3D vision of the future

In the celebration, a 3D projection mapping was projected onto AUC's gateway building, with the aim of displaying the future of architecture.

3D mapping experience of the AUC portal
3D mapping experience of the AUC portal


Following the 3D mapping, the celebration was wrapped up by a fireworks show finale.

AUC Centennial Nights fireworks finale
AUC Centennial Nights fireworks finale

 

Short link: