Top Prize at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for Autonomous Window Cleaner for Commercial Buildings

At the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public and the largest international pre-college science competition in the world, Australian Oliver Nicholls, aged 19, from Sydney, was awarded first place for designing and constructing a prototype of an autonomous robotic window cleaner for commercial buildings. The competition included approximately 1,800 young researchers chosen from 420 affiliate fairs in 81 countries, regions and territories.

From left: Meghana Bollimpalli, Oliver Nicholls and Dhruvik Parikh celebrate on Friday, May 18, 2018, at the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public and the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Nicholls, of Sydney, Australia, was awarded first place for designing and building a prototype of an autonomous robotic window cleaner for commercial buildings. Bollimpalli, of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Parikh, of Bothell, Washington, received Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards. (Image credit: Intel Corporation)

Basically, a flying drone-like device is tied to the roof of a building and fitted with a robust spray nozzle and rotating scrubbers. The $2,300 device can endure 28 mph winds and could replace traditional procedures that can go beyond $11,000 per cleaning and minimize injuries in this high-risk business. Nicholls was conferred the Gordon E. Moore Award of $75,000, named in honor of the Intel co-founder and fellow scientist.

Meghana Bollimpalli, 17, of Little Rock, Arkansas, was honored with one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of $50,000 for her novel, inexpensive method for synthesizing materials that could significantly decrease the energy and production costs of producing electrodes for devices like supercapacitors. She discovered that merging common substances like molasses and tea with phosphorus and nitrogen in a commercial microwave formed a powder that could be used as a coating for electrode-like materials conferring them similar properties of precious metals like platinum.

The other Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of $50,000 went to Dhruvik Parikh, 18, of Bothell, Washington, for his creation of less expensive yet stronger ion exchange membranes for use in large industrial-scale batteries for storing wind or solar-generated electricity for later distribution. Compared to the industry’s regular membrane, his composite membrane delivered 10 times the proton conductivity while decreasing production costs by around 30%.

Intel congratulates Oliver Nicholls, Meghana Bollimpalli, Dhruvik Parikh and all of the participants on their groundbreaking research that will help solve some of today’s greatest global challenges. When students from different backgrounds, perspectives and geographies come together and share their ideas, there is no limit to what they can achieve.

Rosalind Hudnell, Intel Vice President of Corporate Affairs & President of the Intel Foundation

Besides the top winners, around 600 finalists received awards and prizes for their ground-breaking research, including 24 “Best of Category” winners, who each received a $5,000 prize besides their $3,000 first place award. The Intel Foundation also awarded a $1,000 grant to each winner’s school and to the associated fair they represent.

The table below provides the 24 Best of Category winners, from which the top three were selected:

Category Name City State/Country
Animal Sciences Ayman Isahaku and Anna Spektor Glendale Wisconsin
Behavioral and Social Sciences Amy Shteyman Great Neck New York
Biochemistry Rhea Malhotra Bethlehem Pennsylvania
Biomedical and Health Sciences Nabeel Quryshi Milwaukee Wisconsin
Biomedical Engineering Ronak Roy San Diego California
Cellular and Molecular Biology Ella Feiner Bronx New York
Chemistry Meghana Bollimpalli Little Rock Arkansas
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Marissa Sumathipala Ashburn Virginia
Earth and Environmental Sciences Vasily Tremsin Moraga California
Embedded Systems Burzin Balsara and Malav Shah Plano Texas
Energy: Chemical Dhruvik Parikh Bothell Washington
Energy: Physical Sathya Edamadaka Lincroft New Jersey
Engineering Mechanics Frederik Dunschen Munster Germany
Environmental Engineering Raina Jain Greenwich Connecticut
Materials Science Daniel Kang Tamuning Guam
Mathematics Muhammad Abdulla Melbourne Florida
Microbiology Logan Dunkenberger Roanoke Virginia
Physics and Astronomy Ana Humphrey Alexandria Virginia
Plant Sciences Yueyang Fan Shanghai China
Robotics and Intelligent Machines Oliver Nicholls Sydney Australia
Systems Software Ruihua Chou Beijing China
Translational Medical Science Edwin Bodoni Greenwood Village Colorado

Congratulations to Oliver Nicholls, Meghana Bollimpalli and Dhruvik Parikh on winning the top awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair! The breakthrough ideas presented by the winners and finalists demonstrate how the brilliant minds of future generations will make the world a better place. These young innovators are the stewards of our future, and we look forward to seeing all that they accomplish as they continue to pursue their interest in STEM.

Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of Society for Science & the Public

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair motivates numerous students to discover their passion for creating innovations that progress the way humans’ work and live. All finalists are chosen by an affiliated, local competition and get an all-expenses-paid trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. At the competition, finalists are judged by many engineering, science, and industry professionals who have a Ph.D. or equivalent (six years of related professional experience) or are senior graduate students with doctoral-level research in one of the 22 scientific areas mentioned.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2018 is financed together by Intel and the Intel Foundation with extra support from several corporate, government, academic, and science-focused sponsors. This year, about $5 million was awarded.

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