Young Scientists from Costa Rica Shine with Projects for the Disabled posted by on May 21, 2012
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Perseverance and innovation were the keys to success for two bright young Ticos who elevated Costa Rica’s standing in the international stage earlier this week at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh.

As reported in The Costa Rica Star yesterday, Luis Gerardo Leon and Jose Miguel Gonzalez each took second place awards at the international technology and science competition, which attracted more than 1,500 students from 68 countries. For both Ticos, this was their second time competing at ISEF, and their persistence paid off.

In the case of Luis Gerardo Leon’s impressive project, the RIIS-ED: Prototype of Wheelchair for Quadriplegic People Controlled by Neural Impulses was the highest honor earned by a Latin American entry at the ISEF. The Braille printer project from Jose Miguel Gonzalez was recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office Society as a ready-for-production project.

It is important to note that both projects intend to leverage technology to improve the lives of those who live with disabilities.

About Luis Gerardo Leon

This young man from Guanacaste stated in Pittsburgh yesterday that he dedicated his RIIS-ED award not just to Costa Rica, but to Latin America. His RIIS-ED wheelchair is essentially a robot controlled by facial gestures that are translated into neural impulses and further into robotic commands. Luis Gerardo is 17 years old and is a student of the Jose Maria Gutierrez High School in Bagaces.

About Jose Miguel Gonzalez

He is an 18-year old alumnus of the Don Bosco Technical and Professional High School who lives in Escazu. He is currently a student at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (TEC), and like Luis Gerardo Leon, this was his second ISEF. His project consists of a run-of-the-mill desktop printer and keyboard transformed into a Braille printing system that stores data and recycles sheets.

The eleven bright young Ticos who participated in ISEF also had an opportunity to sit down with Dr. Ada Yonath, Chemistry Nobel Laureate. She told the young people assembled at ISEF that:

“Society improves with more science. The more knowledge and scientific advancements, the better the society.”

Vice Minister of Science and Technology Keilor Rojas, who traveled with the young representatives of Costa Rica, underscored that ISEF is not just an academic exercise for the contestants:

“Costa Rica is on the right track as far as her intellectual economy. Here we have people with ideas and the potential to turn them into business. The young people today understand this better than the adults: science and technology projects do not simply end at the blueprint level; they are rather completed and turn to reality when they benefit society, or when they create businesses and enterprises that form part of the economic foundation of the country.”

The proud students will return to Costa Rica on Saturday night.

Source: Ministry of Science and Technology (MICIT)

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