The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) named an asteroid discovered in 2000 after an Egyptian student, Yasmin Yehia Moustafa, after she won first place in the 2015 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) for her earth and environmental sciences project.
The 17-year-old Damietta girl is a student in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) school in Maadi.
Moustafa's project tackled the power of rice straw, including proposed solutions for water purification, electricity shortfall and air pollution. Moustafa used a biological therapy in her project to help water purification. The project proposes getting rid of the rice by burning it to increase the bio-diesel fuel to generate electricity.
Speaking to Al-Assema satellite channel, Moustafa blamed the Scientific Research Ministry in Egypt for paying no attention to creative projects. “We are lost here in Egypt and unless I had joined an international competition my project wouldn’t have come to light,” She said.
She continued, “In the competition most of the international projects were not too creative compared to the appreciation they have received; however, the Egyptian ones were very creative and new but we never received any care in our country.”
The CEO of Intel Egypt said that Moustafa has received a “unique” honor, adding that her success in the field of scientific research is considered an achievement for all of Egyptian society and Intel that encourages youth to be creative.
NASA has also named two other main-belt asteroids after two Middle Eastern students. It named 28831 Abu-Alshaikh after Jordanian Salahaldeen Ibrahim Abu-Alshaikh, 19, who was awarded second place in the 2013 Intel ISEF for his mathematical sciences project.
NASA also honored the efforts of Saudi student Arabian Abdul Jabbar Abdulrazaq Alhamood, 20, naming one of the main-belt asteroids 31926 Alhamood. He was awarded "Best of Category" award and first place in the 2015 Intel ISEF for his plant sciences project.