Richland, Wash., Student Competes For Prize In National Science Talent Search

Mar 12, 2012

RICHLAND, Wash. -- A Northwest student is among the top 40 contenders in a national science fair. The gala finale of the Intel Science Talent Search is Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. The student’s invention? A motor so small it runs off of the surface tension of water.

Andrey Sushko is 17 years old and he still spends a lot of time splashing around in the bath. At first, he was testing out his miniature radio-controlled boats.

But then, a sticky problem kept niggling at him. Some of his wee watercraft would become stuck near the edge of the tub from the water’s surface tension. That inspired Shusko to build his first miniature motor inside a shampoo bottle cap.

"I will spend a lot of my time over the next two months continuing to work on the project that got me to this competition," Sushko says. "Trying to improve the design, make it to work reliably for long periods of time and miniaturize it, etc."

Sushko imagines the motors might power micro-robots that people will swallow someday for medical treatments. To get his hands on more high-tech materials, he’s working with the Pacific Northwest National Lab in his hometown of Richland, Washington.

If Sushko places in the top 10 at this competition he could win up to $100,000 for college. But he’s guaranteed $7,500 just for making to Washington, D.C.

Both Sushko’s parents are scientists, and he’s deciding between MIT, Caltech and Stanford for college next year.

On the Web:

Intel Science Talent Search 2012:

Andrey Shushko biography:

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