Community Spotlight Series — Ambrine Douhane

Earth Hacks
3 min readFeb 24, 2024

EH: Tell us a bit about yourself (i.e., where you’re from, your background, what you’re in school for, etc.)!

AD: My name is Ambrine Douhane. I come from France, but I’ve lived in Switzerland for a few years now. I’m studying micro engineering and I’m here [in the US] as a visiting researcher in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at MIT.

EH: Very Interesting. How did you get involved with Earth Hacks?

AD: I became involved with Earth Hacks through a friend who told me about the GEM Hackathon. I had no idea that this hackathon was taking place, so I took this opportunity to network with people and discover this new environment.

EH: What was your experience like at the GEM Hackathon? Can you tell us about the project that you were involved with?

AD: My team members and I didn’t know each other before this event, but we were all super motivated. We created a platform where people can geolocate themselves to the nearest power plants around them. I learned that working in a team is never easy, but we had the opportunity to express our ideas and work together to make them happen. Also the organizing team was super available to answer our questions, and the atmosphere was both friendly and studious.

EH: What drew you to be interested in microengineering?

AD: Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by robots and their ability to mimicking human intelligence. Initially, I was drawn to the field because it seemed fancy, but now I’m genuinely thrilled to be a part of it. Microengineering is all about working with small scale sensors, filters, actuators… and exploring their applications across various industries. I challenge you to find an industry that can do without sensors today — it’s nearly impossible. That’s why I think it’s really cool to know how to design, manufacture, and test them. Additionally, I’m naturally curious, so when I discovered there were studies that allowed me to delve into a bit of everything, I didn’t hesitate to dive in. In a microengineering degree, we are taught a wide range of subjects: electronics, material science, mechanics, computer science, etc. This provides us with a comprehensive understanding of problems and a broad array of approaches to try solving them.

EH: What role do you microengineering and related fields playing in sustainable development, the energy transition, etc.?

AD: I’m convinced that microengineering plays a big role in sustainable development and energy transition. It’s clear that to tackle climate change, we need to consume less and better. One way to do this is to reduce waste with innovative optimization solutions. As engineers, we’re lucky because our mathematician friends have developed super powerful optimization models. Our job is to use their work in devices that are practically useful to people. For instance, in IoT, you can sense a physical quantity and adapt a service in real-time based on the data you just got. It’s just amazing when you think about it.

EH: What’s a fun fact about you that not many people know about you?

AD: I love data and storing data in a systematic way (lists, tables, maps, records…). When I was young, I was obsessed with flag lists! By the way, it’s also why I enjoyed this hackathon: it was very data driven.

EH: What would you say to someone who has never participated in a hackathon before?

AD: Participating in this event is definitely something they should try because it’s an amazing opportunity to meet diverse people that you’d probably never encounter otherwise. All you need is motivation and enthusiasm, and everything will be alright. It’s not often that we get the chance to pause our daily routine to work on a project for two days, so it’s a unique experience. Also, you don’t have to be a hacker; you just have to be open to opportunities!