Canadian bags $75,000 top prize at Intel ISEF 2016

A Canadian has managed to win for himself the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2016 for his innovation in microbial fuel cell (MFC).

Austin Wang designed and built a MFC that is much better than currently available MFCs for it is able to convert organic waster into energy much more efficiently. Wang believes that his MFC is much more a viable option for it is almost as cheap as solar cells and can be used to generate energy at higher efficiency.

Wang’s innovation lies in the identification of specific genes in genetically enhanced E. coli bacteria that he has used in his efficient MFCs. Wang bagged the top prize of $75,000 for his MFC.

Rosalind Hudnell pegged ISEF as a platform using which students from different backgrounds, perspectives and geographies come together to share ideas and solutions. Hundnell is VP Human Resources, Director Corporate Affairs at Intel Corporation, and president of the Intel Foundation describes ISEF.

Syamantak Payra, 15, of Friendswood, Texas, and Kathy Liu, 17, of Salt Lake City, Utah, grabbed Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of US$50,000 each. Payra developed low-cost electronically aided knee brace that allows an individual with a weakened leg to walk more naturally while Liu developed an alternative battery component that could significantly improve battery performance and safety.

This year’s ISEF featured more than 1,700 young scientists selected from 419 affiliate fairs in 77 countries, regions and territories. In addition to the top winners, approximately 600 finalists received awards and prizes for their innovative research, including 22 “Best of Category” winners, who each received a US$5,000 prize. The Intel Foundation also awarded a US$1,000 grant to each winner’s school and to the affiliated fair they represent.

“Our top winners this year – Austin, Syamantak and Kathy – clearly demonstrate that age has no bearing on your ability to conduct research and come up with solutions to important problems,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science & the Public. “We congratulate them not only for their success but on their dedication and hard work. They and the rest of the Intel ISEF finalists are the rising stars of science, technology, engineering and math, and we look forward to watching them pursue their passions and in turn make the world a better place for future generations.”