An 18-year-old Indian-American boy has won the prestigious Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award in the United States for inventing a device that quickly shuts down undersea oil spills.

Karan Jerath of Friendswood, Texas, claimed the $50,000 top prize on Friday, May 15, at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (IISEF).

Jerath was also one of the five students selected for the Intel and Indo-US Science and Technology Forum Visit to India Award.

Jerath designed a sturdy device that can collect the oil, gas and water spewing from a broken well on the seafloor. “Sensors inside the 350-tonne device would measure the temperature, pressure and density of the mix of gases and fluids erupting from a well.

Source: Hindustan Times

“A computer would then calculate how valves in the gadget should be adjusted so that the gas and oil can be collected. That should stop a spill in its tracks. The device could help prevent an ecological catastrophe. It also would reduce cleanup costs,” Karan said.

The top position was shared by two other teen researchers.

One developed a technique to more quickly diagnose infections by HIV. The other used sophisticated software to improve the flow of air inside aircraft cabins that could reduce the transmission of disease among passengers.

Maya Ajmera, also of Indian descent, who heads the Society for Science and the Public that conducts the IISEF, congratulated the winners and said, “These talented young students are the problem solvers and innovators of their generation.”

Scores of Indian-American students won awards in various categories, five of them getting the first award in their specialisations, biochemistry, behavioral sciences, environmental engineering, mathematics and energy physics.

The IISEF honours the world’s most promising high school student scientists, inventors and engineers selected through rigorous competitions held around the world.

Feature image source: Twitter