Elizabethtown students competing for prestigious MIT grant
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A prestigious MIT grant is up for grabs and some Elizabethtown High School students think they have the winning idea.
Students in the engineering capstone class have until September 4 to submit their application for the InvenTeam grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program.
The winning idea will receive $10,000 to go toward developing a technological solution to a real-world problem. The idea is top secret at this point and the students are sworn to secrecy by their teacher. "I wish I could say more about it, but I really can't," said student Esha Khan.
Elizabethtown High School is one of just 36 schools across the nation and the only one in Kentucky selected for the prestigious opportunity.
"Just making it past the first round was a lot of success for us," said team leader Kaitlyn Brandenburg.
The process began last school year when they received the Excite Award, which made them a finalist for the grant. Once school started just a few weeks ago, the group of 10 hit the ground running, brainstorming and developing ideas until they landed on what they think is a winner. "What we're looking at is how to prevent deaths in the work place because a lot of people are dying," said Khan.
It's a problem they see affecting their Elizabethtown community, so they went straight to the source to see how their invention could help.
"We brought in some different people from around Elizabethtown (and asked) about what are some of the problems, what are safety problems," said Susan Ryan, Workforce Readiness Coordinator for Elizabethtown Independent Schools.
With that in mind, they got to work coming up with solutions.
"Everything is from scratch. We have to do all the coding, we have to do all the programming, we have to do the design," said Brandenburg.
They have about a week left to get their application in and they want to make sure everything is perfect..
"If there's even one typo, that can disqualify us. It's a lot of pressure," said Khan.
While winning would be incredible, the team is more focused on what this could mean for their future.
"Just imagine putting that on your college application that you went to MIT over the summer and you helped create a real-life invention that solved a real-life problem," said Khan.
After the September 4 deadline, the program will choose 15 schools to receive up to $10,000. If the team makes it to the next round, they'll travel to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology next June for an invention festival. If they're not chosen, the students have already have funding commitments from community partners to make sure they can build their invention.
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