Thursday, March 5, 2015

Emma Morgan of Stevenson wins national MIT competition

Three U.S. high school students were recognized as winners of the 2015 MIT THINK Scholars Program, one of the only student-run high school research competitions in the country.

Among them was Emma Morgan, an 11th grader from Stevenson School.

Emma was one of six finalist who got an all-expenses-paid trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and give a presentation of their projects. Emma emerged as one of the top three winners, earning a $1,000 scholarship, a $2,000 grant to carry out her project.

In her project, "Artificial Musculature: A New Approach to the Linear Solenoid" Morgan proposes to redesign linear solenoids to improve motion in prosthetics. From her proposal:

"Advancement in biologically based robotics is the key to better prosthetics and more lifelike robots. This requires linear motion like that of natural musculature. Currently, the major types of electromechanical linear actuators are solenoids and pneumatics, which are not well adapted for use as musculature. This paper proposes a redesign of the linear solenoid to form linear actuator cells. Consisting of a permanent magnet and an electromagnet, these modular cells will expand and contract based on the direction of the current through the electromagnet. Each cell can connect to another identical cell and form a chain or “muscle”. I will test several sizes of cells, types of electromagnets, and materials for the outer membrane to determine which has the most contraction capacity and efficiency. Later research will focus on miniaturization of the most efficient model.

Yeah, she's an eleventh grader.

The THINK program, which stands for Technology for Humanity guided by Innovation, Networking,and Knowledge, accepts applications from high school students around the country every year. THINK aims to make science and technology research accessible to all motivated high school students by providing the resources needed to complete a project. Since the program started in 2008, it has helped tens of students in the past several years complete innovative and creative projects in the STEM field.

I'd so love to see more Monterey County students take part -- and win awards -- from this program. Emma's a really good start. Congratulations again!

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