Faculty of Engineering


Water Conservation via the Power of Data Science

In this issue of “Tell Us Teacher,” we spoke with Junior Associate Professor Salem Ibrahim Salem from Egypt, from the Faculty of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical and Electrical Systems Engineering. Dr. Salem told us all about his research on remote sensing and machine learning for water resources and environmental monitoring.

Q:When did you realize you were interested in Engineering & Science?

As far as I remember, there were two main triggers that made me study Engineering and select my current research.

When I was kid, my family used to share their daily life activities during dinner time. The most exciting moments were when my father, who is an engineer and the owner a construction company, would tell us about his daily challenges and how he could overcome them using a unique solution. I was fascinated with engineers and their way of thinking outside the box.

The second trigger occurred in my teens when I watched a documentary about the hole in the ozone layer. The documentary showed how the stratospheric ozone layer protects life on Earth by absorbing dangerous sunlight (e.g., ultraviolet light) and how the ozone layer was being depleted over the South Pole due to the usage of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar man-made chemicals that could destroy the planet. During the documentary, they presented some satellite images of the ozone concentrations. Again, I was charmed with satellites and remote sensing and their ability to monitor the Earth from above.

Q:What was your major during your undergraduate studies?

My bachelor studies related to civil engineering. I studied Civil Engineering at Alexandria University in Egypt. Then, I designed and constructed buildings for several years after graduation. I also worked as a teaching assistant at Alexandria University in Egypt for 8 years. As I have had concerns about the environment, I did my master’s degree in Environmental Engineering to improve wastewater treatment and therefore reduce the amount of pollution that is discharged into the environment.

Q:When did you start studying your current research field?

My current research started with my PhD studies. I wanted to understand the influence of climate change and global warming on our environment, especially the water bodies that make up about 71% of the Earth’s surface.
As we know, global warming refers to the gradual increase of Earth’s average temperature, which includes water temperature. An Increasing in water temperatures causes excess algal growth, which has a negative impact on human health and can cause a massive die-off of fish leading to substantial economic losses.

Therefore, monitoring the quality of water bodies is an essential tool for determining and controlling pollution-prone areas in order to conserve our planet.
Earth observation satellites play an important role to provide a global observation of the surface. Some satellite missions provide long-term observation of Earth’s surface, such as the Landsat mission that started in 1972 and still provides images today.

The huge amount of satellite data reveals the need of new approaches to handle these data. Thus, I recently integrated data science and machine learning into my research to extract patterns and insights from satellite data and to allow computers to learn from data.

Q:In the future, how would you like to contribute to society through your research?

Our ultimate goal is to support decision-makers’ management of water resources by providing timely, accurate satellite observation and predictions of water bodies to mitigate the influence of harmful conditions.

Q:Why did you select Japan?

During elementary school, I was introduced to the culture of other countries, including Japan. I was fascinated by Japanese people, who are polite, intelligent, hard workers with a teamwork mentality. Additionally, in Egypt, Japanese products have a reputation for being long-lasting.
When I decided to pursue my PhD, Japan was my first choice due to many reasons: Japan is one of the top countries for science and technology. Japan is also one of the top 10 safest countries in the world, which seemed like a very good place for me and my family. Currently, I enjoy the teaching and research environment along with the fascinating culture, delicious food and gorgeous nature.

Q:What made you decide to come to Kyoto?

I believed in KUAS’s revolutionary vision to bring up “street-smart global engineers”. Therefore, I moved from the University of Tokyo to KUAS to become a part of this remarkable achievement.

Q:Could you tell us about your hobbies?

I have three main hobbies: reading, playing table tennis and watching movies. When I was a teenager, I used to save the pocket money that my father gave me to buy novels. Reading can not only expand our knowledge, but also transport us to other worlds created by the author.
Sport in general and table tennis in my case taught me good sportsmanship by enjoying the game, respecting opponents and being a good loser.
Watching movies helps me to reduce work stress and escape to a different time and place through the story.

Learn more about Dr. Salem Ibrahim Salem