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Teen engineer invents system to improve air quality on airplanes

Raymond Wang, 17, of Canada won the top prize at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for developing a new air inlet system for airplane cabins to improve air quality and curb disease transmission.

Wang’s system improves the availability of fresh air in the cabin by more than 190 percent while reducing pathogen inhalation concentrations by up to 55 times compared to conventional designs, and can be easily and economically incorporated in existing airplanes. He received the Gordon E. Moore Award of  $75,000, named in honor of the Intel co-founder and fellow scientist.

In Singapore, Hwa Chong Institution’s Lim Zheng Theng, Tan Yi Zhao and Tan Kye Jyn Benjamin took home the Second Award of $1,500 in the Life Sciences category and a Second Life Science Award of $1,000 from The Scientific Research Society for their project, ‘Synthesis of Electrospun Nanosilver-Functionalized Nylon 6 Nanofibres for Membrane Water Purification’.

Representing NUS High School of Mathematics and Science were Ren Yuhua and Madhumitha Shridharan who bagged an award of $1,200 from the China Association for Science and Technology for their ‘Wearable LED Illumination for Skin Sensitivity Calibration’ project.

In the Chemistry category, Claudia Lee from the Raffles Institution received a Fourth Award of $500 for her project ‘Metal-free Click Chemistry for the Development of Peptide-based Biomaterials’.

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Nicole Ticea, 16, of Canada received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of $50,000 for developing an inexpensive, easy-to-use testing device to combat the high rate of undiagnosed HIV infection in low-income communities. Her disposable, electricity-free device provides results in an hour and should cost less than $5 to produce. Ticea has already founded her own company, which recently received a $100,000 grant to continue developing her technology.

Karan Jerath, 18, of Friendswood, Texas, received the other Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of $50,000 for refining and testing a novel device that should allow an undersea oil well to rapidly and safely recover following a blowout. Jerath developed a better containment enclosure that separates the natural gas, oil and ocean water; accommodates different water depths, pipe sizes and fluid compositions; and can prevent the formation of potentially clogging methane hydrate.

“Intel believes young people are key to future innovation and that in order to confront the global challenges of tomorrow, we need students from all backgrounds to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Sumner Lemon, Country Manager, Intel Malaysia and Singapore. “We hope these winners will inspire other young people to pursue their interest in these fields and apply their curiosity, creativity and ingenuity to the common good.”

The world’s largest high school science research competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is a program of Society for Science & the Public, announced its top winners in Pittsburgh.This year’s competition featured approximately 1,700 young scientists selected from 422 affiliate fairs in more than 75 countries, regions and territories.

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