Sky High Entrepreneurial Innovation
ECE student team creates autonomous window cleaning device as part of UC Davis Startup Center’s PLASMA program
UC Davis electrical engineering student Abdallah Hashem’s idea for his recent UC Davis College of Engineering Student Entrepreneur Innovation project, sparked when he was a teenager in Dubai.
He remembers looking up at one of the city’s numerous skyscrapers, watching window washers hanging stories high into the air, cleaning sand and dirt off the side of the building and thought there had to be a better way.
There was—an autonomous window cleaning solution he invented called SkyShine. Hashem ’22 first developed a prototype of the window cleaning device in high school, winning first place in his school’s science fair.
Abdallah Hashem’s ’22 UC Davis Electrical and Computer Engineering Experience
Since coming to UC Davis, he has expanded upon the technology of SkyShine utilizing the knowledge gained from his electrical engineering degree, including experience with digital systems, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and technology management. He also enlisted the help of a multi-disciplinary team of fellow students to advance the project, including civil engineering major Arista Wu ’22, managerial economics alumna Hana Bijli ’21 and biomedical engineering student Amar Abdul Kader ’25.
The device utilizes cameras and a wide variety of sensors to inform AI, which then can delineate between windows, spacers, levels of cleanliness, and cleaning algorithms. The AI capabilities of SkyShine make it autonomous, meaning it does not have any supervision requirements to work. It can be placed on a building and operate on its own. Additionally, unlike other autonomous window cleaning options currently on the market, SkyShine does not require installing any additional infrastructure to be operational. It also is self-cleaning, water-efficient, and competitively priced.
“Most of our competitors build their solutions based on off-the-shelf equipment that is extremely complex and requires additional infrastructure to operate,” said Hashem, who plans to pursue a master’s degree at UC Davis in fall 2022. “We’re building a system that only works for its intended use and, in doing so, it’s not overly complex, so it makes it easy for maintenance, doesn’t require additional infrastructure, and can run 24-7.”
Hashem and the team, SkyShine, presented in a competition as part of their involvement in UC Davis Startup Center’s PLASMA program. PLASMA is a 12-week early-stage cohort accelerator for UC Davis undergraduate entrepreneurs. PLASMA provides early-stage companies with an extensive mentor network, educational lessons with industry leaders, seed capital, and a rich entrepreneurial work environment.
Watch to see how SkyShine works
In addition to this competition, Hashem said he appreciates the network of expert speakers, advisors and mentors to which the program has exposed him and his classmates. They have provided invaluable insight on everything from how an investor might look at their product to how to bring the product to market. For instance, the UC Davis Venture Catalyst program expert suggested that Hashem and the team plan to apply for intellectual property rights for SkyShine, which is precisely what the team plans to do next.
“The biggest take-a-way I’ve had from the whole program is how much others can inspire me,” he said. “During my workshops discussions with my teammates, and as I watch other teams presenting, I got inspired by their different ideas, approaches to problems, and ideologies which leads them to work on a project that makes people’s lives better. The teams created an opportunity for improvement – opportunities that don’t just happen.”