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white house science fair

White House Science Fair showcases the next generation of IT professionals

March 25, 2015

Teenaged participants—and future IT stars—showed off some truly creative inventions that address some of IT’s more intractable problems at yesterday’s White House Science Fair.

President Obama announced $240 million in funding commitments from the private sector to support, inspire and prepare kids with interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This monetary commitment, along with the president’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, will increase access to STEM programs for school-aged children, especially those in the under-represented sectors such as low income areas.

Some of the nation’s most creative and driven students exhibited their innovative ideas for a panel of senior administration officials, including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and NIH Director Francis Collins. STEM industry influencers Susan Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and popular scientist Bill Nye also attended the fair for a sneak peak at what the future of STEM holds.

Student exhibitions included advances in robotics, solar energy and even improving cancer diagnoses, but we were excited that some future IT gurus exhibited their latest projects.

Password authentication and security

Fourteen-year-old Nikhul Behari of Sewickly, Pennsylvania, has developed a supplementary security system to protect online data. This ingenious system focuses on the amount of pressure and the pause time individuals take to make every keystroke. Nikhul programmed two microprocessors to measure pressure and pauses and found that keystrokes could be as unique to a user as their password. These findings also helped Nikhil earn 2nd place in Technology at the 2014 Broadcom MASTERS national finals.

Encouraging teens to “rethink” before they post

Social media anonymity provides teens an open forum for cyber-bullying with few to no consequences. But Illinois teen Trisha Probhu wanted to figure out how she could encourage her peers to rethink their potentially harmful posts. The Rethink computer program alerts users when a post contains hurtful language and ultimately teaches individuals to think before they post in the future. Trisha found 93 percent of Rethink users were less likely to send these damaging messages because of her program’s alerts. These findings and Trisha’s efforts earned her an invitation to the 2014 Google Science Fair as well.

Responsible tech: wearables

Jonathan Hernandez, 17, and Fanta Sinayoko, 18, designed a blood alcohol content detection wristband called ëris with their classmates at Lemelson-MIT high school in California. This sophisticated and trendy wearable technology is a fraction of the size and cost of traditional portable breathalyzers, but just as effective. Users blow onto a sensor that recognizes any ethanol presence, which in turn alerts the individual of their level of intoxication and ability to drive. With a utility patent and a potential licensing deal in progress, these teenaged creators hope to see their IT contribution available to consumers in the near future.

To read more about the student exhibitors, click here. And read about TEKsystems' own efforts to nurture the next generation of IT leaders

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Katherine Kozelski is the social media coordinator for TEKsystems. She enjoys keeping the pulse of all things technology, social media and pop culture via her No. 1 news source: Twitter. In her free time Katherine loves to cook, travel and play with her black lab, Remy.

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