Colorado teen Krithik Ramesh won first place for developing a machine learning technology for orthopedic surgeons at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, Arizona, May 17.
The competition, billed as the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, featured over 1,800 young scientists selected from 423 affiliate fairs in more than 80 countries, regions and territories.
“This is surreal and very humbling,” Ramesh, 16, of Greenwood Village, Colorado, said after winning the award. “There’s a lot to process right now.” He won the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore Award, named in honor of the Intel co-founder and fellow scientist. Besides winning ISEF’s top prize, Krithik’s project was the top winner in the biomedical engineering category.
According to an Intel press release, Ramesh’s project which using machine learning and computer vision, helps orthopedic surgeons achieve greater accuracy for screw placement during spinal surgery. The press release said that “based on Ramesh’s tests, this method has the potential to decrease operating time by at least 30 minutes, reduce physical therapy recovery time by four weeks and diminish the negative side effects associated with traditional medical imaging.”
Shriya Reddy, 15, of Northville, Michigan, received the newly announced $10,000 Craig R. Barrett Award for Innovation, funded through Society for Science and the Public, for her novel, noninvasive approach for rapidly diagnosing melanoma lesions.
In addition to the top winners, approximately 600 finalists received awards and prizes for their innovative research, including 22 “Best of Category” winners, who each received a $5,000 prize in addition to their $3,000 first-place award. The Intel Foundation also awarded a $1,000 grant to each winner’s school and to the affiliated fair they represent.
Indian-American winners included Reddy for Biomedical and Health Sciences, Ramesh for Biomedical Engineering and Poojan Pandya of Dix Hills, New York, for Microbiology.
“The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s most powerful STEM talent pipeline and I am inspired by all of the ingenuity on display this week,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News. “Congratulations to our winners and all our finalists who are demonstrating that world-changing ideas can come from anywhere in the world,” she said.
Speaking to FOX31 after winning the award, Ramesh said that “this is such an incredible prestige and it happened to me and I haven’t fully comprehended everything yet.” He told the news channel that he enjoys listening to music, solving Rubik’s cubes, competing with his school’s speech and debate team, experimenting with his flight simulator and playing Just Dance. “My project started because I was trying to like five star Shakira’s ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ on Just Dance, so learning how the motion tracking system worked was ultimately how I predicted spine behavior,” he said.
Ramesh spent about nine months researching for his project. He learned how to interpret medical imaging, collaborated with medical professionals and developed algorithms for using augmented reality, machine learning and computer vision.
“Essentially what I did was try to eliminate fluoroscopy, medical imaging procedure in which doctors can see x-rays in real time from surgery,” he said.
Last year, Ramesh was awarded a regional first place award at ISEF for a project that attempted to use mechanical learning to help the wings of aircraft compensate for turbulence.