Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #22 - Amazing MIT students

On the plane, I got a chance to catch up on the MIT Alumni Spectrum magazine, highlighting the work of MIT professors and students. I'm often amazed at the broad range of talents and ambitions of MIT students, which sometimes leaves me feeling a bit of an underachiever. But then I remember being a student and recalling that the vast majority of us were not superstars, but mere mortals and often very normal (OK, some people would argue about the normal part). In my class, James Worden was a superstar, having already won prizes for his solar electric car. In our 2.70 mechanical design class, we had to design a continuously variable transmission for his car. This caused students to resent his fame - like he needed our help! Anyway, these new crop of kids are amazing and now that I'm an adult, I have no problem highlighting their achievements to the world.
  1. Nathan Ball invented a 20 pound battery powered rope ascender that can lift 250 pounds more than 600 feet into the air at up to 10 feet per second. Batman cool, and extremely useful for firefighters. Check out the video. He also is co-host Design Squad, a PBS show that I actually applied for (hmm, I guess TV wasn't for me!).
  2. Zachary Bjornson-Hooper earned an award from the EPA for reporting that airline water was contaminated when he was 12 years old. He hypothesized that planes fly to Mexico and India, which have contaminated municipal water, then refill their tanks. He tested the water with a kit and the results were later verified by the EPA. The EPA then presented results to the U.S. Congress, which made it illegal for airlines to serve contaminated water.
  3. Raja Bobbili taught an MIT class on poverty in developing countries that produced legislation for HIV/AIDS in Zambia and recently has been approved for the entire nation of Zambia.
  4. Amos Winter is devoted to developing better wheelchairs for use in developing countries by developing a wheelchair in which you can comfortably travel six miles a day, and which can be sold in Africa for under $150.
  5. Jason Katz-Brown - This Scrabble champ sees Scrabble as an endless mathematical problem and not as a word game as the casual player does. He is currently ranked 3rd in the National Scrabble Association (which is international despite the name). He also co-developed Quackle, an artificial intelligence version of Scrabble.
  6. Nicki Lehrer founded the non-profit Children of Guayaquil to build a community center in Pascuales, Ecuador for street children with no food, clothing or education.
  7. Sadik Antwi-Boampong recently established the first library in a poor town in Ghana. With no resources, he solicited donations of books and computers, and connected with a member of Parliament who volunteered to donate a run-down town council building to establish the library.
  8. Angelica Weiner implemented a computer project for young women in Ecuador to teach them skills to land jobs. In the beginning, the girls struggled with the most basic skills, like switching on the computer, and opening and closing windows. By the end of the term, the students were touch typing, making PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets, and were closing computer windows with confidence.
  9. Jainey Bavishi is working to establish a Gulf Coast funders' collaborative to support and strengthen community capacity in the region affected by Katrina and has traveled to New Orleans 12 times.
  10. Emily Houston won 10 national target shooting championship titles and holds 20 national records, the highest score for her age ever recorded in the US. She plans to go to the Olympic trials in 2008.
  11. Doria Holbrook is a national diving champ who hopes to qualify for the Olympic trials in 2008.
  12. Carl Dietrich invented an aircraft that is a cross between a small car and an airplane. Several distributors are eager for a chance to sell the $148,000 aircraft which has already interested hundreds of customers and investors and it’s not even built.
  13. Anthony Rizos launched his own railroad web site that was devoted to Amtrak train service at age 10. After attracting the attention of the Associated Press, USA Today, and CNBC the chief information officer of Amtrak offered him a job at age 13.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Pretty cool. My b-i-l went to MIT ... for a semester, I think it was. He's doing okay anyway.

Happy TT!

Anonymous said...

That is an excellent list. I am ashamed to say I had not heard of any of them, but I have bookmarked this and I'll be back to explore all those links.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Being a comp sci grad, I love (LOVE) MIT. AWESOME list!

Joyismygoal said...

i want to feel smarter reading that but i think I feel the opposite

Open Grove Claudia said...

I have a good friend who graduated from MIT. I'm always amazed at what MIT grads do and the worlds they change. I was even rooting for John on the Beauty and the Geek! ;)

Happy TT!

Holly said...

I went to M.I.T.! (okay, so it was for a concert - not as a student) LOL!