Qatari student wins top computer science award

November 1, 2013

A Qatari student, Amna Al Zeyara, has won first place in the undergraduate research competition at the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Minneapolis, USA.

Organised 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.

“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, a computer science student at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said.

“This is the second time that I attend this conference, on both occasions it has been an amazing opportunity to meet other women and learn from leaders in the field,” she said.

Al Zeyara, a senior, was recognised 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.

“Amna has taken on increasingly challenging research projects during her time at CMU-Q,” Kemal Oflazer, director of the Computer Science Programme at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, said.

“We have all witnessed her remarkable development into a serious researcher and she is the first CMU-Q student who has been honoured twice for her research accomplishments. When one of your students is recognised 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 Programme and its accomplishments.”

The award is the second time Al Zeyara is recognised for her work on Hala. In an earlier phase of the project, Al Zeyara 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,” Ilker Baybars, dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said. “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.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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