Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Conrad awards showcase Youth and Innovation

The late Apollo astronaut Pete Conrad was known as an imaginative and high-spirited guy, so unique that Mike Collins wrote of him, "One of the few who lives up to the image. Should play Pete Conrad in a Pete Conrad movie." The foundation bearing his name awards the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation prizes to high school inventors who can solve tough challenges with real-world applicability. Check out what teenagers came up with this year:

"- Ouroboros, Upper Clair High School, Pittsburg, PA (aerospace exploration)- for their Perpetual Harvest Space Nutrition System that takes organic waste created during long duration space flight and creates compost that is then used to grow fresh foods also serving as an air filter for human habitation.

- West Philly EVX Team, West Philadelphia High School Auto Academy, West Philadelphia, PA (clean energy) - their Electric Very Light Car (EVLC) is being prepared for commercial market and will set the standard for efficiency with their electric vehicle.

- Unisecurity, North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics, Durham, NC (cyber security) - for their Med PAL smartphone application that works with a Bluetooth enabled heart rate monitor worn by the user. MedPAL will automatically contact a call center and/or personal emergency contacts based on GPS coordinates should irregularities occur."

COMMENT: This is the kind of thing that gives me hope for the future. We may be in economic recession and a host of other problems, but with kids like this, as John Denver sang in his tribute to the Challenger astronauts, "The promise of tomorrow is real."

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