Alex Wulff inspires seventh gradersSkaneateles High School Junior Alex Wulff inspired seventh graders during a presentation in the library during the last week of school. He spoke to the entire grade about science fair projects, inventions, high school technology classes and more.
Wulff has been the winner of the Central New York Science & Engineering Fair the past two years and has won awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair both times.
At the international fair in Phoenix, Arizona, this May, Wulff was named the international fourth-place Intel ISEF Grand Award winner in the Embedded Systems category. That's the same award Wulff won at the 2015 Intel ISEF event. Wulff also won the Patent and Trademark Office Society Special Award.
He told students how he started participating in science fairs at their age, and walked them through the steps of creating a product/project.
“The hardest part by far is coming up with good ideas,” he said. Over the past two years, he has explored at least 30 different ideas to one extent or another. This year's project involved creating sensors that are placed inside casts to alert orthopedic doctors if there is a problem. Wulff built the sensors himself and is seeking to patent his invention.
Last year, Wulff designed and built tiny, inexpensive devices that constantly scan the path in front of a visually impaired wearer and alert him or her to the proximity of close objects with subtle vibrations.
“It helps to come up with an idea that interests you,” he said, encouraging students to “look around for ways to make the world a better place.” What is needed out there? What will help people? Many ideas already have been taken, he said. But just because someone else has tried something doesn’t mean that it can’t be developed and improved upon.
He has done all kinds of projects, from engineering to life sciences.
Wulff told the seventh graders what they have to look forward to with Project Lead the Way engineering classes in the high school. He talked about building a mandolin in Computer Integrated Manufacturing with Mr. Matt Slauson, and showed them a video of a trebuchet he made with fellow students in his Principals of Engineering class. (For this popular assignment, the trebuchets are used to catapult pumpkins in the fall).
Students appeared mesmerized with the details of how he spends months and months on a project, ideally beginning in the summer. When someone if he knows what he is creating next, he told how he is busy “designing applications for clients” right now. In addition to his science fair projects, he runs a business.
After leaving the packed middle school library, Wulff headed down the hall to Todd Lamberton’s classroom to talk with sixth grade science students.
In a previous press release about Wulff, Peter Plumley, chief program officer at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology and director of the local science fair, said this: "ISEF is the biggest pre-college science fair in the world, and is attended by over 1700 of the top students from 77 different countries and territories around the globe. Alex has impressed our local judges, as well as the judges on the international field, with both his research and innovative design and application of imbedded systems with the goal of advancing orthopedic techniques that have been in practice for a century or more.”
Wulff was one of two CNY students featured in a special "SciTech Now" program about CNYSEF that aired recently on WCNY-TV. Watch the program and learn about his potentially limb-saving invention at http://video.wcny.org/video/2365741709/.
Intel ISEF honors the world's most promising student scientists, inventors and engineers. Finalists are selected annually from hundreds of affiliated fairs. Their projects are evaluated onsite by approximately 1,000 judges from nearly every scientific discipline, each with a Ph.D. or the equivalent of six years of related professional experience in one of the scientific disciplines.