Dr. Heba Kurdi

Assistant Professor
Computer Science, College of Computer and Information Sciences
King Saud University
Riyadh, Saudi Aramco

MIT Department/Faculty Supervisor(s): 

Prof. Jonathan How, Aeronautics and Astronautics

Fellowship Dates: 

10/25/2014 to 09/30/2015


Saudi Aramco


Dr. Heba Kurdi is Assistant Professor of Wireless Networks and Communication at King Saud University. She completed her PhD from Brunel University’s School of Engineering and Design (London, UK) in 2010 achieving the Shield of Distinguished Research from the Saudi Ambassador in the UK and Ireland.

Inspired by the wisdom of the Honeybee Colony, Dr. Kurdi developed a new computing environment, Personal Mobile Grids, and became the first Saudi female to receive a US patent in the area of Information and Communication Technologies. Dr. Kurdi has had dozens of journal and conference publications and received the Best Paper Award in London's 2012 Science and Technology Conference sponsored by Springer and IEEE. Dr. Kurdi works as a reviewer for several journals and is a principal investigator and project manager on several research projects. Her research interests include Bio-inspired Engineering, Multi Agent Systems, Distributed Systems and Mobile Computing.

Dr. Kurdi has been working in academia for the past ten years, where she played different roles including vice chair of the department of Computer Sciences, vice dean of the College of Computer and Information Sciences and vice dean of the Career and Entrepreneurship Centre.  She is also a certified associate fellow of the UK's Higher Education Academy. These different positions and rich experiences have given her strong academic, managerial and leadership skills and a deep sense of commitment for the field of academia.

Research Plan: 

Bio-inspired Approach for Multitask Allocation Problem in Unmanned Ariel Vehicles

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which are aircrafts with no pilot on board, are increasingly attracting attention; they are capable of performing a wide range of missions that are considered dull and dangerous for humans. For instance, in emergency situations, such as natural disasters, finding and rescuing potential survivors can be carried out by a group of  autonomous UAVs, which cooperate with each other in the destroyed environment that manned vehicles and humans cannot reach or have difficulty reaching.

With the growing focus on multi-UAV, multi-UAV task allocation (MUTA) is attracting a significant attention. Actually, in the field of Search and Rescue (SAR) missions of UAVs, the main challenge facing researchers is to decide how to best allocate multi-UAV between rescue and search tasks to fulfill the urgent need of finding and rescuing people within a certain time frame.  This problem increases in complexity as the numbers of UAVS and tasks increase and it is classified among NP-hard problems.

Dr. Kurdi is working with Professor Jonathon How, from the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department, to develop bio-inspired techniques that enable multi-UAV systems to act autonomously and execute SAR missions within predefined time constraints. Bio-inspired algorithms are based on the fact that natural systems present an intelligent collective behavior albeit composed of simple parts (agents) of limited capabilities. This intelligent collective behavior emerges naturally from the special characteristics of these simple agents which include: self-organization, adaptiveness and robustness. These properties lend themselves well to distributed optimization problems such as task allocation, scheduling and routing.

The main idea of the proposed algorithms is to have the UAVs dynamically changing their roles based on situational awareness. Once algorithms are implemented, simulation-based studies would be carried out to evaluate and optimize their performance.

Publications based on Ibn Khaldun Fellowship Research

1.  H. Kurdi, J. How, A. Mahmud, “Bio-Inspired Algorithm for Task Allocation in Multi-UAV Search and Rescue Missions,”   AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, 4-8 January 2016, San Diego (accepted).

2.  H. Kurdi, J. How ”Emerging Role of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Search and Rescue Missions,” the First International Forum for Strategic Planning and Disaster Management, 18-20 April 2016, Jeddah, SA (accepted).

3.  H. Kurdi, J. How, “A Framework for Mass Crowd Management during Hajj based on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” the First International Forum for Strategic Planning and Disaster Management, 18-20 April 2016, Jeddah, SA (accepted).

4.  H. Kurdi, J. How, A. Mahmud, “Distributed Bio-Inspired Algorithm for Search and Rescue Missions,”   (in progress journal article).

5.  H. Kurdi, J. How, “Multi-UAV: Taxonomy and Survey Focused on Coordination,” (in progress journal article).

Professional Certificates during Ibn Khaldun Fellowship

“Human Resource Management”, Harvard Extension School.
“MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership,” MIT Sloan.
“MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation,” MIT Sloan.
“Kaufman Teaching Certificate,” MIT Teaching & Learning Laboratory.