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Community News (V15-I47)

November 14, 2013 by  


Samah el Tantawy honored for research on smart traffic lights

Weekendje weg naar eerbeekUniversity of Toronto Engineering graduate Samah El-Tantawy’s PhD dissertation on developing a smart traffic light control system has won two prestigious international awards.

El-Tantawy’s system uses game theory and artificial intelligence to ‘teach’ lights in real time how to adjust to traffic patterns.

Her dissertation won first place this month in the best PhD dissertation competition from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Intelligent Transportation Systems Society (ITSS). El-Tantawy (CivE PhD 1T2) also won second place from The Institute of Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS) for its George B. Dantzig Dissertation Award.

El-Tantawy, who worked under the supervision of Professor Baher Abdulhai (CivE), Director ofThe Toronto Intelligent Transportation Systems Centre and Testbed, has high praise for her supervisor’s role in helping her win the awards.

“He has the critical thinking skills that made me think outside of the box,” she said. “But he was not only supportive on technical matters; he also encouraged me through his positive energy.”

“I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Samah El-Tantawy for being recognized for her innovative PhD dissertation,” said Cristina Amon, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “Her development of the smart traffic light control system is an excellent example of the creativity and global leadership of U of T Engineers.”

Professor Abdulhai and Dr. El-Tantawy have made headlines for developing the system for which she won the awards. It is known as MARLIN-ATSC, for Multi-agent Reinforcement Learning for Integrated Network of Adaptive Traffic Signal Controllers.

Tests of the MARLIN system on 60 downtown Toronto intersections at rush hour showed a reduction in delays of up to 40 per cent. The test also showed MARLIN cut travel times by as much as 26 per cent.

Pious Ali elected to Portland school board

Pious AliPORTLAND,MAINE–Pious Ali, a long time social worker, has been elected to the Portland School Board. His election is widely being hailed for it is the first time that a African born American and a Muslim has been elected in the history of the board.

Ali, 44, was born in the African nation of Ghana. He worked as a freelance photojournalist, often contributing to an English-language newspaper based in the nation’s capital. Ali moved to New York in 2000, and Portland in 2002.

He is the current Director and Co-founder of the King Fellows, a Portland based youth group dedicated to creating meaningful opportunities for youth leadership and civic engagement based on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Often working with diverse groups of individuals who are predominantly immigrants, Pious has built strong relationships with many communities, non profits, institutions and leaders from diverse backgrounds.

Ali had spent many summers working as a facilitator for Seeds of Peace (Maine Seeds).  He has also worked as a Site Coordinator for PROP’S Peer Leader Program, youth worker for Preble Street’s Lighthouse Shelter, and PROP’S Parkside Neighborhood Center.  At Volunteers of America, he was a Residential Counselor, working with formerly incarcerated men on addressing issues such as substance abuse and mental health as well as getting them ready to go back into their communities.

With the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP- Portland branch) Pious Ali served as Education and Community Engagement Coordinator.  He has also volunteered at Long Creek Youth Development Center.He  is also studying Sociology at Southern Maine Community College.

Muslim students at UNC display Muslim life in art

The “Passion in Practice”, a multimedia exhibit will be on display at the University of North Carolina’s Student Union Art Gallery for the month of November. Its creators are two juniors   Aisha Anwar and Layla Quran.

The display shows different aspects of lived Islam. “Islam is a religion that can be interpreted in so many ways and through so many different passions,” Quran told the Daily Tar Heel. “There’s so much room for possibility — you can interpret it in a way that fits your lifestyle.”

Talk on Islam held at Darien library

DARIEN, IL–The Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien held a talk on Islam by popular cookbook author Yvonne Maffei.  She talked about Muslim dietary practices and fasting in the month of Ramadhan.
Participants also tasted a date dish especially created by Maffei.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-11th of Naperville also spoke at the event and congratulated the library for serving as a bridge between cultures.

Hartford Seminary receives copy of Nahj al-Balagha

Lebanese scholar Seyed Sadeq Musavi consulted some 80,000 scholarly works and spent 25 years assembling “the ultimate edition” of the classic collection of the Imam ‘Ali’s sayings, sermons, orations and letters, known as “Nahj Al-Balagha” (The Course of Eloquence). On Thursday, he donated a copy of the elaborately designed and decorated book to Hartford Seminary’s library.

Prof. Mahmoud Ayoub first met Mr. Musavi through Seminary Corporators Dr. Ali Shakibai and Syed Raza. It was through this association that Mr. Musavi was invited to the seminary to give a talk about his book and research.

“He visited our library and was deeply impressed with it,” Professor Ayoub said. “More than 20 students and faculty participated in this interesting event.”

Mr. Musavi’s book, entitled “Tamam Nahj al-Balagha,” is in the original Arabic. According to Seminary Librarian Steven Blackburn, it is the only work published outside of Iran that has been selected as a basic textbook for training clerics in Shi’i seminaries such as Qom. An English translation is anticipated in the future.

Of the 80,000 scholarly works consulted in the research process, more than 1,200 were found to contain seminal work that Mr. Musavi used to provide reference materials that were missing or incomplete from the original text.

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