SAE Announces STEM Innovation Contest 2022 Winners

When you’re trying to solve complex real-world issues, the best place to start is to look for problems–ideally problems with which you have a personal connection. From traffic congestion, to global food insecurity, and climate change, winners of the Chowdhury STEM Innovation Contest 2022 did just that and more.

On his way to school with his mother, sixth grader John Tewolde found himself frustrated waiting at a red light which ultimately made him late for school all while there was no traffic coming in the other direction. He immediately started brainstorming. What if there was a smart traffic light solution that would use artificial intelligence and machine learning to make traffic more efficient and environmentally responsible?

After researching different smart technology options, John soon realized there wasn’t a great way for traffic signals to recognize vehicles on both sides of the road. He also found vehicles idling unnecessarily at intersections waste 6 billion gallons of gas per year, contributing to climate change. TrafficSmart, a smart traffic light that can reduce commute times for potentially millions of commuters, took home first place.

“I really liked working with my older brother. Talking to him about my project and working with each other. I also had a chance to work with my dad” added John, whose father and brother served as mentors for the contest.

Fourth grader Nicole Haragutchi also used personal connections to help identify her real-world issue. Having successfully organized fundraisers for students with special needs throughout the world, she soon realized they also often times need access to clean water and a reliable food source.

Nicole worked with her father who was also serving as her mentor for the contest to develop Scalable and Fertilizer-Free Energy Self-Sufficient Carbon Neutral Aquaponics. As part of her presentation, she developed a fully functional solar-powered aquaponic system to raise edible fish and grow vegetable plants. Nicole and her father hope to scale the solution, producing 40 tilapia fish and growing lettuce beds to prove the technology can be used at scale.

“If we can help people grow their own food, it can help their community too. We can help the whole world to do it and that helps the environment,” said Nicole.

Being in different grades and at different schools didn’t stop the third-place team of Arthur, Malachi, Ephraim, and Zachary from working together to explore the use of drones to provide food and resources to landlocked countries. Even though they were virtual, they still worked creatively to find ways to combine their ideas.

“Being on a team really helped because it was better to gather all the parts you were working with. Whenever you were stuck or didn’t know what to do, you always had a teammate to help you or give ideas to finish the product,” added Malachi.

Now in its third year, more than 46 registrants in grades 4-8 in the U.S. and Canada, participated in this year’s competition to come up with a real-world issue to research, imagine, and design their own STEM solution, then create a digital presentation to share their ideas in a fun, engaging way.

In addition to being recognized for their efforts, winning registrants also earned prizes for themselves and their classroom along with a donation to a charity of their choice.

Congratulations to our 2022 winners and all of the students who participated this year. We can’t wait to see what real-world problems you tackle next.

For any young learners interested in starting their STEM journey, be sure to take a look at these free SAE STEM@Home resources supported by the SAE Foundation.

Stay tuned for the next SAE STEM Innovation Contest!

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