Three Young Lebanese Inventors Headed to Kuwait for International Competition

I’m an engineer (de jure, if not entirely de facto), so anytime I see young people headed in that direction, my heart swells with fierce delight.

Three high school seniors who attend Collège Nôtre-Dame de Jamhour recently snatched top honors for their technology invention at the International Warsaw Invention Show (IWIS). Carlo Karam, Samy el-Khoury, and Walid Behlok, all 17-year-olds who aspire to be engineers, created a surveillance drone that scans ski slopes for fallen skiers and transmits this information in real-time back to a central computer. The officer manning the computer can then access photos of the target, pinpoint its location, and intervene accordingly.

The motivation behind this device? The trio are friends of the sister of Melanie Freiha, who died earlier this year after suffering an accident on the Faraya slopes. Stirred and stricken by her fatal tragedy, the students assembled a drone and programmed an algorithm in Matlab to seek out floored objects. Self-taught programmers, they were able to bring their apparatus from 40% accuracy to an impressive 92-93%, in addition to accelerating its speed.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Samy, Carlo, and Walid and talk shop about the multiple applications of their device (you can read the full interview here and watch the video at the foot of the article). The drone functions over any terrain, and they’ve already been able to simulate its utility over different fluid media including water. They’re in the process of building a platform to use their algorithm effectively in households and nursing homes.

From left: Walid Behlok, Carlo Karam, and Samy el-Khoury

What truly impressed me is their level of humility and focus. They speak elatedly of their success at IWIS, where more than 25 countries were represented by nearly 600 diverse inventions and where they placed first in the category of Technology.

But that satisfaction is checked by respect for other contenders; for the resources Jamhour has put at their disposal; for their supportive physics teacher and mentor Sadek Bark; and for sponsor Bank of Beirut, who will generously be funding their way to Kuwait next week at the 8th Annual International Invention Fair.

Up close with Carlo Karam and the drone, which relies on an algorithm to spot fallen objects

I was curious to learn to which universities the boys are applying. Carlo has his sights on MIT, Purdue or Georgia Tech for aerospace engineering. Walid prefers the more moderate climate of California and has submitted applications to UCLA, UC San Diego, Berkeley and Stanford. Samy’s bent on staying in Lebanon and attending the AUB.

Wherever they go, they have already done us, the Lebanese people, proud. Let’s continue to support them and other aspiring young folks who demonstrate (in this case, literally) that the sky’s the limit.

Here's the video interview:


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