Qatari Student Wins Top Award at Computer Science Conference

October 23, 2013

Doha, Qatar - Amna AlZeyara, a computer science student at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, has won first place in the undergraduate research competition at the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Minneapolis, USA.

Organized by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery, the Grace Hopper Conference is one of the most prestigious technical conventions for women in computing, bringing both their research achievements and career interests to the forefront.

“This is the second time I’ve attended this conference, and each time it has been an amazing opportunity to meet other women and learn from leaders in the field.
I am very excited to be selected as one of the student winners, and it has inspired me to continue my hard work toward becoming a computer scientist,” Amna said.

AlZeyara, a senior, was recognized for her work on Hala, a 3-D animated robot with Arabic facial features that interacts with visitor to Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Her project involved identifying and developing a series of facial expressions, which help engage users by enhancing the non-verbal aspects of human-robot communication. She was mentored by Majd Sakr, associate professor of computer science.

Kemal Oflazer, director of the Computer Science Program at Carnegie Mellon Qatar said: “Amna has taken on increasingly challenging research projects during her time at CMU-Q. We have all witnessed her remarkable development into a serious researcher and she is the first CMU-Q student who has been honored twice for her research accomplishments.

“When one of your students is recognized in this manner in a tough competition against many similarly qualified candidates from around the world, we have every reason to be proud. This brings tremendous visibility to CMU-Q Computer Science program and its accomplishments.”

This recent award is the second time AlZeyara has been recognized for her work on Hala. In an earlier phase of the project, AlZeyara and Nawal Behih, an information systems student, received the Best Student Research Award at Qatar Foundation’s Annual Research Forum.

“We are very proud of Amna, who has shown us with this award that she is among the best and brightest computer science students—not only in Qatar and the region, but across globe. I also congratulate our faculty, who are preparing the next generation of technology innovators that will be at the forefront of Qatar’s future development,” said Ilker Baybars, dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.

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