I am getting ready to go to Reno for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, totally excited to meet the finalists and learn about the amazing science projects they have been working on. This year, we have 1200+ projects submitted by more than 1500 finalists. We are writting about a few interesting projects on the www.intel.com/education website and here are a couple more that will give you a glimpse into the extraordinary work these high school students are conducting.Jesse Ellison (Bayfield, Colorado, USA) As a fan of sci-fi movies such as Star Wars, Jesse Ellison was intrigued by the engines and propulsion systems depicted therein. So when Ellison caught a Discovery Channel documentary on real-world space exploration, he decided to merge fiction with reality. His goal: to design an electric jet propulsion engine capable of future interplanetary travel. Ellison based his work on a NASA design concept, but made several alterations based on his theories for improved efficiency and feasibility. Specifically, he believed that pre-ionizing the fuel could allow more energy from the magnetic field to be directed into fuel acceleration. A prototype – assembled in Ellison’s garage, using scavenged parts from old electronics and other discarded items – successfully proved his hypothesis, resulting in improved efficiency of the pulsed inductive thruster. One day, Ellison hopes to take his design from prototype to reality as an aerospace engineer. Avilash Cramer (West Linn, Oregon, USA) In December, 2004, Avilash Cramer accompanied his family on a vacation to the coast of Thailand. The day after the Cramers left the country, a deadly tsunami struck the area, killing more than 225,000 people in 11 countries. Though Cramer and his family escaped injury, many of their friends were not as fortunate. Determined to help in some way, Cramer decided to focus his efforts on developing a device to aid search-and-rescue workers in future disasters. As a result, Cramer’s research project involved designing and building a prototype for a remotely-operated machine capable of aiding underwater search-and-rescue operations. The idea, explains the young scientist, was to allow rescue personnel to conduct searches remotely – particularly in dangerous situations where the search zone could include choppy, frigid and/or polluted water – thus preserving rescuers’ health and wellbeing. Cramer’s prototype includes three axes of motion, three sensors (GPS, accelerometer and camera) and two forms of communication (Bluetooth and tether). The device also includes facial recognition programming to help locate humans trapped under water. Applications could extend beyond search-and-rescue operations to uses in espionage and reconnaissance missions.
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