August 27, 2020 Inspiring Young Minds: Topcoder and the Young Inventors Program

Last year, I was honored to present the keynote address at the Young Inventors’ Program, part of the Regional Invention Convention at Southern New Hampshire University. I was looking forward to attending this year’s event in person in March, but as we all know, that wasn’t possible. Instead, the Northern New England Invention Convention (NNE-IC) went online for the first time in nearly 40 years. Though we all missed gathering for an in-person event, it goes to show that nothing can keep the innovative and competitive spirit down, and in some way it was more important than ever to show our support for this incredible program.

About THE Young Inventors’ Program

The Young Inventors’ Program inspires students to think creatively and apply their learning to solve real-world problems through innovation. The Academy of Applied Science offers the program at no cost to schools, libraries, community centers, afterschool programs, homeschoolers, and others who want to engage K-12 students in engineering, technology, and science. The annual Invention Convention offers a chance for these students to present their work.

This year, the program had to be particularly innovative to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. “When the inevitable decision came to cancel the in-person event, we were heart-broken yet determined to give our young inventors a stage to present their ideas and celebrate a year of hard work,” said Tina White, Director of the Young Inventors’ Program. “We knew so much had been taken from kids with schools, libraries, after-school activities closed that we could not eliminate the event entirely….we did what every inventor does with a setback: we worked harder, used our creativity, and leveraged technology to come up with a solution!”

The Disruptive Technology Award

We are proud to present the Topcoder Disruptive Technology Award as part of the Invention Convention. The award honors innovations that are designed to displace something legacy with a new and improved way of doing things. Enjoy highlights of the winners presenting their inventions:

Here are the 2020 Disruptive Technology winners:

Third Place: Yashi Bajpai & Emerson Drown

Yashi and Emerson created the Virtual International Dining Experience (VIDE). This allows the public to dine in local restaurants using technology that helps them feel like they are traveling to other countries. Diners can experience both the ambiance and the food internationally.

Second Place: Jerry Xu

With Jerry’s invention, the TerraMech, you can clean your lawn without risking injury (or sunburn). TerraMech is a lawn-cleaning robot that automatically removes weeds from your lawn.

First Place: Anna Blanchette

This is Anna’s third year in the Young Inventors’ Program. She has been working on her plastic-alternative formula and its potential applications, and has come up with a novel formula for biodegradable material. This year, her Plastic Waste Erase project uses her formula for biodegradable utensils and dishes that break down naturally in ten days, protecting water sources from chemicals and reducing waste in landfills.

Learn more and Get involved

I’m beyond impressed with the work of these young inventors—the talent, energy, and creativity on display in their inventions is inspiring. These students learn to look at real-world problems in new ways, deal with the disappointment of failure and the thrill of overcoming it, and keep pushing towards solutions.

I encourage other business and technology leaders to learn more and get involved with this amazing and important organization. Nearly 5,000 students participate in the Young Inventors’ Program:

  • 57% of inventors are girls
  • 88% of inventors stated that they want to take more STEM classes
  • 90% feel that they are better at math & science because of YIP

If you want to see the results of a year of hard work by young inventors, you can watch the 2020 Young Inventors’ Program here. Congratulations to all of the student inventors who participated this year, especially Anna, Jerry, Yashi, and Emerson!

Mike Morris


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