Friday, May 14, 2010
Some of the smartest high school students in the world are competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose this week... and two of them are from our own backyard. Morning Edition host Pam Davis spoke with La Jolla students Aaron Schild and Rafael Cosman.
Some of the smartest high school students in the world are competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose this week, and two of them are from the San Diego area. We spoke with The Bishop's School's Aaron Schild and La Jolla High School's Rafael Cosman.
PAMELA DAVIS: You created an automatic car windshield dimmer that prevents the sun from blinding drivers. How'd you come up with this idea?
AARON SCHILD: When Rafael and I both drive, we noticed there was a huge problem with low angle sunlight getting into our eyes, the sun visor was an inadequate solution, so we wanted to come up with an automatic alternative to it, that would be embedded within the windshield.
DAVIS: So how does it work?
RAFAEL COSMAN: It has a series of electrochromic panels, that is they darken when you put electricity across them.
SCHILD: There's a camera within the setup that sends images to a computer program which then analyzes the images, the the program that analyzes the images, it orders a microcontroller board to darken a specific panel where bright sunlight is coming through.
DAVIS: Once you created this, and you tried it out, did all of your friends want one?
COSMAN: Well, actually a lot of people have asked us if we can put one on their car. We're going to get a patent on it before we do anything like that.
DAVIS: How'd you guys meet?
SCHILD: Our families have known each other since I was in eighth grade so Rafael and I have been very good friends, and when I came up with this idea I told him about it and we decided to work on it.
DAVIS: What's it like to compete for millions of dollars in prizes?
COSMAN: Well, it's been really exciting. We've had to work hard to get here, but it's really been an opportunity.
SCHILD: It's just been really fun meeting lots of people because besides just the judging that we had yesterday, we got to meet people at several social events throughout the week, so it's been really fun meeting people from all over the world really.
DAVIS: Was this your first invention?
COSMAN: This is my first invention that I'm actually planning to get a patent on. I suppose I have had silly ideas for other things in the past.
DAVIS: What were some of your other silly ideas, as you call them?
COSMAN: Well, usually they were already invented, you know, like hydrogen fuel cells, or you know, various ways to save the world.
SCHILD: I think this is really my frist big invention, like in the past, I've done computer programming, and I've done various things online and I'm on the computer, but I've never really done anything like this that required so much circuitry in a real life situation that would solve a real life problem. It was a really good experience for me just to get a hold of something that was so applicable.
DAVIS: What are your plans for the future? Is this something you'd like to take on?
SCHILD: We'd like to get a provisional patent on it in the near future, and then after that, potentially market it to companies.
COSMAN: Yeah, we think it has applications well beyond just cars. You could use it on boats, or airplanes or even spacecraft.
SCHILD: You could also use it in office buildings, and pretty much anywhere there's a window with sunlight coming through you could apply it.
DAVIS: You both have college plans?
SCHILD: Yes, we do. I'll be going to Princeton next year.
COSMAN: I don't have any college plans. I'm still a junior, so I haven't thought about it yet. But yes, I do hope to go to college.
DAVIS: Aaron, you said you're going to Princeton. What are you going to major in?
SCHILD: Before this project especially I was really into going into pure math, but I've decided I think I'd like -- I might like something more applied, like applied math or physics, or computer science. I'm not completely sure what I'm going to major in.
COSMAN: I know for sure that after this project that I'm going to be an engineer. Being able to interface software with hardware, and do all sorts of neat things, has really inspired me.
Editor's note: We incorrectly stated that Aaron Schild is a student at La Jolla High School. He is a student at The Bishop's School. We regret the error.