The Lemelson-MIT Awards Program has announced that Krysta Morlan, a 10th-grader from Vacaville, CA, has won its first-ever high school apprenticeship award.
The Lemelson-MIT High School Invention Apprenticeship is an annual award presented to an American high school student for inventiveness. Depending on the winning student's interests, he or she will be paired with a leading scientist, technologist, engineer and/or entrepreneur who will serve as an "Invention Mentor" so the student can learn first-hand about the process of inventing. One apprenticeship will be awarded each year.
Krysta's Invention Mentor will be Colin Twitchell, director of the Lemelson Assistive Technology Development Center (LATDC) at Hampshire College and founder of Ergosport, a company that produces adaptive technologies for recreational and sporting equipment.
Krysta developed the "Cast Cooler" to provide relief to those who are forced to wear casts during the hot summer months. Having worn a full-leg cast for almost a year due to surgery related to diplegic cerebral palsy, Krysta knew first-hand how uncomfortable casts could be.
The invention employs a 9-volt battery to power an electric motor, which is attached to a plastic tube that directs air into the cast.
"The selection committee for the Lemelson-MIT Apprenticeship had strong views about the importance of the likely impact on the career of the winner," said Richard Heitman, chair of the selection committee. "Krysta's desire to help others through invention and her enthusiasm to learn more about medical technologies greatly impressed our committee."
The Lemelson-MIT Awards Program was established in 1994 by the late independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife Dorothy. The program celebrates America's most talented inventors/innovators and presents living role models in the fields of science, engineering, medicine and entrepreneurship in the hope of encouraging future generations to follow their example.
For information on how to apply for the 2000 Invention Apprenticeship, call x3-3352.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 16, 1998.