Superheroes venture into unexplored territory, overcome obstacles, and improve the world around them. At the Intellectual Ventures Lab, we think of ourselves in a similar way. Using our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) superpowers, we invent real-life gadgets that could save and improve the lives of millions of people across the planet.
Future STEM heroes visit the Intellectual Ventures Lab.
We were excited to recently host a group of 60 STEM superheroes-in-training from across the Seattle area. These high school juniors are part of the University of Washington’s Math Science Upward Bound program and are exploring careers in the sciences and engineering. The students toured our electronics, optics, mechanical engineering and biotech labs, learning about some of the nifty gadgets we’re developing in our not-so-secret lair – technologies like Arktek, a super thermos that uses space technology to keep life-saving vaccines cool as they are transported to children in remote areas, and the Autoscope, an automated microscope that uses artificial intelligence to detect malaria in areas with few trained microscopists.
The students also had a chance to hear from Aidan, a summer intern who is helping to design a device to diagnose tuberculosis, and Amanda, a scientist who is developing a test to measure the bacterial contamination of milk, among others.
We caught up with a couple of these STEM superheroes to find out what their superpowers are and how they plan on deploying them to improve the world. Meet Ayantu, Ray and Aisha:
Ayantu, high school junior
STEM Superpower: Medical microbiology
Quest: Wipe out infectious disease.
“If I had a superpower, I would be trying to find a cure to diseases that are wiping out a wide population, like HIV. I’m interested in that because I’ve known people who have had diseases like that.”
Ray, high school junior
STEM Superpower: Asking questions!
Quest: Improving water quality
“It's ridiculous how some parts of the world don’t have the kind of quality we have that we take for granted. We have tap water that's 100 percent healthier than what you get in third world countries. I think that a lot more people should work on that problem.”
Aisha, high school junior
STEM Superpower: Research
Quest: Creating new dermatitis treatments
“I have eczema. I want to do research and find ways to get rid of it.”
Thank you, Upward Bound, for visiting us at the Lab. Though we are working hard to develop breakthrough technologies that can address global challenges, we know that we can’t tackle them alone. We need to inspire the next generation of STEM superheroes to join the fight, and continue to invest in an innovation ecosystem where ideas can thrive.