Maya Bridgman established the Dubai AI Society, which has now grown into a global community of over 600 students across four continents Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A UAE student has been named one of the top 10 finalists for ‘ Global Student Prize 2022’ who will vie for the $100,000 (around Dh367,000) award to be given to one exceptional student that has made a significant impact on learning as well as in the lives of their peers and society.

The winner is expected to be announced later this month during UN General Assembly week in New York.

Maya Bridgman, a 17-year-old Canadian studying computer science, psychology, biology and mathematics at Dubai College in Al Sufouh, was selected from over 7,000 nominations and applications from 150 countries around the world.

Maya is passionate about increasing the accessibility of computer science, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning for students, regardless of age, gender, location, income, or experience.

Access to AI education

She established the Dubai AI Society, which has now grown into a global community of over 600 students across four continents. She is also working with the UAE Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, to bring an AI workshops to more than 500 schools in Dubai, and is a regular delegate and speaker at Model Congress and Model United Nations conferences.

Maya has also created free teaching guides aimed at individual students as well as groups, that require no stable WiFi access, programming prerequisites, or computer science knowledge. She has partnered with several NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in India, as wells as Children’s Cancer Centre Lebanon, Baghdad Business School, and Iraqi Children’s Foundation to share this knowledge with disadvantaged or underprivileged individuals to allow them the same access to artificial intelligence education.

Dan Rosensweig, CEO and president of Chegg, said: “Since its launch last year, the Global Student Prize has given incredible students all over the world a chance to share their stories, connect with each other, and reach influencers in education and beyond. Now, more than ever, students like [Maya] deserve to have their stories told and have their voices heard. After all, we need to harness their dreams, their insights, and their creativity to tackle the daunting and urgent challenges facing our world.”

Prioritising education

UAE-based Varkey Foundation partnered with to launch the Global Student Prize last year, a sister award to its $1 million Global Teacher Prize. It was established to create a new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere. The prize is open to all students who are at least 16 years old and enrolled in an academic institution or training and skills program. Part-time students as well as students enrolled in online courses are also eligible for the prize.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said: “I extend my warmest congratulations to [Maya]. Her story is a testament to the crucial role that education plays in building a better tomorrow for us all. It is the key to solving humanity’s greatest challenges, from war and conflict to climate change to growing inequality. As time runs out to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is more important than ever to prioritise education so we can face the future with confidence.”

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Other finalists

The other top 10 finalists are Alesyah Asa from Malaysia; Anagha Rajesh from India; Gitanjali Rao from the US; Igor Klymenko, Ukraine; Kenisha Arora, Canada; Lucas Tejedor, Brazil; Mathias Charles Yabe, Ghana; Nathan Nguyen, Australia; and Nicolás Alberto Monzón, Argentina.

Previous winner

Actor and humanitarian Hugh Jackman announced last year’s winner, Jeremiah Thoronka, in November 2021. Thoronka, a 21-year-old student from Sierra Leone, launched a start-up called Optim Energy that transforms vibrations from vehicles and pedestrian footfall on roads into an electric current. With just two devices, the start-up provided free electricity to 150 households comprising around 1,500 citizens, as well as 15 schools where more than 9,000 students attend.