A Cheap self-driving cars, charging your smartphone in 20-seconds? These under-20s are changing the world.
Can you still remember what you were doing back when you were 17, or 18-year-old? Doubt it will be anything groundbreaking or world changing, at least for the majority of us.
In the past week, there were 3 young bright minds, all under the age of 20, that made the news with their scientific breakthroughs and engineering project, that could potentially change how we drive our cars, charge our smartphones and even travel underwater!
Here’s a look at these 3 young innovators:
1) Ionut Budisteanu: cheap, self-driving cars
This 19-year old Romanian high school student developed a technology for self-driving cars. He was awarded the Gordon E.Moore Award and took home $75,000 at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a huge international science competition to highlight scientific creation by high school students from around the world.
How’s this different from Google’s self-driving car technology? Significantly cheaper. Google’s system would cost approximately $75,000 while Ionut’s system would cost around $4,000. As people are warming up to the idea that their cars can drive itself, the next concern is how much would such system cost to be integrated with their cars. If Ionut’s technology is viable without compromising quality and safety at this price, consumers will be more willing to pay the additional premium for self-driving option car. But issues like insurance liabilities and regulation will make it a while longer before we will see cars driving itself around us even if the cost of the technology is low.
2) Esha Khare: supercharger to charge devices in 20-seconds
It takes hours to charge anything that is battery-powered (ie. your smartphone). Despite all the innovation we see with smartphones and electric car, battery technology always has been lagging. Esha, an 18-year old Californian teen has created a super-fast charging device that can potentially charge phone in 20-seconds. She has only used it to charge a light -emitting diode(LED) so far but she envisions her technology for wider application. She won herself $50,000 from Intel’s event.
Esha’s technology will have a strong positive implication for the transportation industry. Battery-powered electric car is the best alternative currently to replace fuel-combustion engines to combat climate change. Besides the cost of battery vehicles, ‘range anxiety’ or the fear of running out of power is a concern for car owners. Even with many charging stations around, it takes significantly longer than the time it takes to pumping fuel into your current car to juice up your electric vehicle.
Slash that time down to 20-30 seconds and we will see a greener future with more electric cars on the street. Bye bye fog. Oh, and there’s no more need to lug around a portable charger anymore.
3) Justin Beckerman: homemade submarine
Unlike the first 2, Justin, 18 from New Jersey did not participate in Intel’s fair. Nonetheless, his feat is worth mentioning.
Still a high school student, Justin is building his one functioning submarine. Not so world changing, as far as I can see. But it is only a matter of time with his engineering talent and passion Justin will come up with some high-impact technology.
After coming across these 3 individuals over the past week, I reflected on our Malaysian education system. Our version of education was to memorise and pass exams, not so much of learning. Application of knowledge wasn’t an important part of the syllabus. Sad to say (and unfortunate for me), the usefulness of what I learnt back in school only started revealing itself when I grew older, in my 20s. Imagine what could be achieved if we were exposed to greater application of knowledge and encouraged to explore creative ways to apply this knowledge as soon as we pick this new knowledge up. Young minds, with their unbounded creativity will surprise us with interesting, potential use of the knowledge they learnt. Little or none was done in our curriculum to allow our young minds to explore our creative side.
Rarely we see primary or high school students achieving feats like the 3 mentioned here. My experience tells me that anything that did not contribute to improving our academic results is deemed useless and irrelevant with exception to the standard sports and musical activities. Anything out of this, your parents and teachers will be really skeptical of it , advise you to quit doing what you are doing and go focus on your studies or attend tuitions. Our current form of education has a narrow scope. In reality, education can encompass many things so long it is adding to the knowledge that students gain.
In my opinion, I think this behaviour comes down to the risk-averse nature of our society. We study, sit for exams, obtain certificates and repeat the cycle. This path is structured and widely accepted and the outcome is predictable which is gaining more academic qualifications. What you put in, you know what you might get out of it. When pursuing something else with uncertain or unknown outcomes, it’s our nature to avoid and discourage such pursuits. Invest all your time and resources but risk getting back nothing is a path that we avoid. Inventions, creation, development and taking our human civilization to the next frontier requires us to explore uncertainties, to take the path not taken. Without it, we stay stagnant. The future of generations after us is determined by how we treat this not-so-structured form of education and the true meaning of learning.
By the way, did you guys learn anything out of Moral Education? I still ain’t sure what I went through this subject.