Winning the International Science & Engineering Fair of $75k 🧪🔬

Creating a live-time navigation system for spinal reconstruction, AR/ML, and conducting research

Welcome back to another edition of the DeltaX newsletter! :)

I’m currently trying to take my mind off the fact that school starts next week for me 😳 (seriously, where did summer go?). Wishing all my fellow high schoolers best of luck in heading into a next school year and possibly transitioning back to in person school - we got this!! 🙌😤

On the same track of high school - today we’re diving into conducting high school research at the highest level and chatting with the 2019 International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) winner of $75k, Krithik Ramesh.

Let’s get startedddd :D

  1. 🥇 Winning the 2019 International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF)

  2. 🔮 The future (and things to watch for) with technologies such as AR and ML

  3. 💎 Advice for high school researchers (+ extra from 2021 ISEF winner!)

🎙 Δx podcast

Earlier this week, I posted this sneak peek of the podcast:

It was as fun as it looks! 😄 We chatted about Krithik’s project developing a live-time navigation system for spinal reconstruction with Augmented Reality (AR - peep the Oculus headsets 👀) and Machine Learning (ML).

It’s a really interesting story involving Just Dance, Grey’s Anatomy, and “Pokemon Go for spinal surgery” 🕺😂

The podcast’s out now - you can listen to it below or on the DeltaX podcast page with previous episodes!

In this episode, Krithik shares his journey in winning the largest international pre-collegiate science competition, the future of AI and mitigating algorithmic bias, and advice for high schoolers in conducting research and science fairs.

💎 Δx takeaways

If you haven’t heard of a science fair before, it’s essentially an exhibition of high school researchers showcasing their projects to professional judges and the community. 👩‍🔬👨‍🔬

*Cue trifold boards, 8 hour judging, and board titles with words you can’t even pronounce.* 😹

As someone who has also participated in a fair (haha) share of science fairs, I know how hard it can be to 1) come up with a research idea out of all the unanswered questions in the universe and possibilities 🌌 and 2) present your project to judges and stand out among a sea of amazing projects. 🔎

Tackling the first challenge…

  1. 💡 Coming up with an idea

The reality is, a lot of inspiration and innovation happens by accident. (Here’s a few examples you may or may not have heard about: the microwave, post-it note, chocolate chip cookies, X-ray, super glue… 🍪)

Sometimes instead of actively trying to think up an idea, it’s easier to follow the trail of bread crumbs and ask small questions about things you’re curious about.

Here’s how Krithik’s project on live-time navigation systems for spinal surgery started out - with trying to beat a Just Dance song 🎶:

Instead of trying to get better at dancing which was entirely out of the cards for me, I was trying to figure out how the connect sensors work... to leverage that and get a high score.

It’s funny how quickly a conversation can move from Just Dance and Hips Don’t Lie to research on AR and technologies like SLAM (Simultaneous Location and Mapping) 😆

  1. 🗣 Presenting at science fairs

One of the most intimidating parts to science fairs can be presenting your project in front of professionals and industry experts 🥼 - not to mention the other projects which seem so foreign and complex to an outside eye :0

Counterintuitively, the most key thing in performing well is to treat each judging session as a conversation and opportunity to get valuable feedback. 💭 Ultimately, your goal is to get new perspectives and show people why you care about your project so much.

Being a researcher is stopping to smell the flowers but also analyzing the color saturation. 🌷

Be analytical, be curious, but also enjoy the experience and just have fun :)

Krithik’s project also employed various technologies like AR and ML for medicine. 🩺 In the conversation, he talks about AI in drug discovery (ex. Alphafold), diagnosis in the next 10 years, and the regulatory implications surrounding integration of AI into the medical realm. 🧬

Speaking of AI…

As humans, we often don’t think about the sheer amount of data we process each day. Just think about all of the sensory data (near infinite) we absorb every moment of our lives. 🤯 It’s easy to talk about the AI technology itself while forgetting that data is such a huge part of it as well. 📊

And finally, some additional advice from 2021 ISEF winner Michelle Hua: “Don't be afraid to get started! It might seem like a long journey from the initial idea to the final project and preparing for science fairs, but it's is super rewarding. Sure, you might run into to bumps in the road, but you'll also make great memories--whether it's learning new things, meeting new people, or just challenging yourself to do something new.” 🛣

📰 Δx change

Here’s this week’s briefing on the recent change in the last 2 weeks:

That’s all I’ve got for this week! Hope you enjoyed this science-themed edition and podcast :)


Ellen X

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