As innovators across the Arab world are encouraged to apply for the next season of Stars of Science, Kuwaiti engineer Jenan Al-Shehab relives her experience of QF’s innovation TV show
In my first year as an electrical engineering student at Kuwait University, when I was walking around its yards eagerly, contemplating every around me, a poster on the wall caught my attention: an invitation to young Arab innovators to apply for Stars of Science.
At the time, I had no idea about the program, as it had only been shown for one season at the time and was not yet as well-known in the Arab world as it would become. Immediately, I opened my laptop and started searching for more information about the program, and found myself excited about the chance of participating.
Before submitting my application, I contacted the program’s administration team, and I still remember them asking me a few questions about the engineering programs that I used. Due to my lack of experience at that time, and my inability to answer these questions, I suddenly felt a fear and a reluctance to participate, but the encouragement of my family and friends prompted me to continue.
I submitted models of three different inventions, until one of the jury members advised me to complete the work on only one of them – a device that alerts doctors to a patient’s impending hypoglycemic coma, which was my innovation that I showcased in the second season of Stars of Science.
Having been accepted onto the program, I suspended my university enrollment for a whole semester so that I could focus on my participation in Stars of Science. I didn’t consider this a waste of time, or a reason for delaying my graduation from the university, because I felt that being a contestant on Stars of Science was a way of helping me to achieve my dream.
Being on Stars of Science was a wonderful experience for me: it gave me the opportunity to learn, to develop my innovator mindset, and to get more experience in the world of innovation
I started in the field of innovation 15 years ago, and I worked on my first invention when I was in high school, but I felt ‘what is the use if the world does not benefit from it?’ So being on Stars of Science was a wonderful experience for me: it gave me the opportunity to learn, to develop my innovator mindset, and to get more experience in the world of innovation.
Although I do not specifically remember my first day in the program – it’s 10 years ago now – what I definitely remember is my fascination with the ultra-modern devices and technologies in its laboratory. It provided the sort of integrated services every innovator dreams of, in addition to allowing us to be in an incubator environment for Arab minds that helps us to enjoy testing scientific projects, gives us a truly innovative experience, and created a highly competitive spirit among the participants.
On Stars of Science, I learned how the innovative process works, from having the idea on paper, to taking it through proof of concept, prototype preparation, engineering, and design to the final product, and this helped me a lot in my college graduation project and my new innovation that I am working on now.
The participation of young innovators in such programs is vital, because presenting ideas and innovations on paper is not enough. This is where the role of Stars of Science comes in: helping innovators to work on their ideas, and bring them to the world.
During my entrepreneurship journey, some told me that my dream was impossible, and I could not achieve it. But despite all the obstacles, I succeeded in launching my company and am continuing to work on my innovations
The program team is still in constant contact with me, and they tell me if there is a competition or exhibition in any country that I might benefit from participating in. When I meet them every year, I get to know new inventors, and I consider the program as a basic reference for all inventors in the Arab world.
My participation in Stars of Science also helped me to develop a large database of innovators. When I launched the Middle East Women Inventors & Innovators Network Award, I was able to reach a large segment of my audience through Stars of Science and invite them to participate, and the second-place winner of our award is Dr. Noha Abu Youssef, who is also a graduate of the program. Some members of the Stars of Science family are on the jury for the award. Who could have imagined that, after nearly 10 years, I would still be communicating with them?
My Stars of Science experience was not easy at all, but it was not impossible, and I quickly felt reassured and comfortable. When you join Stars of Science, you are part of the family, and with each season this family grows, including new mentors, and new innovators, and we learn so many things.
During my participation in the program, I may not have reached the final, but I still reaped the fruits of what I learned in Stars of Science, which is one of the best decisions I have made in my life
Young people in the Arab world may face some challenges in becoming entrepreneurs. During my entrepreneurship journey, some told me that my dream was impossible, and I could not achieve it. But despite all the obstacles, I succeeded in launching my company and am continuing to work on my innovations. And now the same people are proud of me and my work, and share this success with me.
From my personal experience, I know that working in the field of innovation is not an simple thing. I have faced many challenges, from obtaining permits, or sourcing labor, or with the import and export of products. Each stage has its own challenges, but with patience and perseverance we can achieve our goals, and I am confident that we are able to achieve everything we dream of.
During my participation in the program, I may not have reached the final, but I still reaped the fruits of what I learned in Stars of Science, which is one of the best decisions I have made in my life, My message to all young people in the Arab world is: what you do today will determine your tomorrow. If you have ideas and innovations, start working on them while you are full of energy and vitality, and start creating the future version of yourself today.
Jenan Al-Shehab holds a degree in electrical engineering from Kuwait University, and is currently focusing her efforts on her business and obtaining a Master's degree in Systems and Process Control. She is the founder and CEO of Electrodis, established in 2016 and considered to be the first of its kind in the region, as it manufactures electromagnetic cells to provide power to electronic equipment.
She won a double Gold Award from the Global Woman Inventor and Innovator Network )GlobalWIIN (and is its first Arab ambassador. She was also assigned the responsibility of launching the Middle East Women Inventors & Innovators Network.
Do you have an innovative idea that you want to become reality?
Stars of Science, which will mark its 13th season in 2021, opens the door for Arab youth aged 18-35 to embark on an exciting journey to develop their ideas, with the opportunity to win funding that realizes these ideas and pushes them to new horizons.
With the help of a dedicated team of engineers and product developers, Stars of Science spans a 12-week journey, as innovators race to prove the value of their ideas. Each week, the show’s expert jury evaluate and selects the projects to qualify for the next stage before, in the Stars of Science grand final, four projects compete for a prize fund of $600,000.