For many years, Ukrainian students have been bringing the most prestigious awards from different international contests. However, their inventions and new technologies, despite an obvious advantage for humanity, aren’t implemented beyond their labs. Besides other reasons, it happens because those who could help develop these inventions just don’t know about their existence. Today, Opinion talked to some young inventors whose projects are worth implementing.
These students, who haven’t even finished their school yet, already realise what they want to achieve in this life. Some, as for example, a young scholar Valentyn Frechka who invented the technology of producing paper from fallen leaves, is going to work in the environment field. He creates technologies which decrease the impact of human activity on our planet. Some are fond of engineering and constructing planes, quadrocopters, robots which make people’s life easier with every year. Some are dreaming of developing advanced information technologies which will be able to protect our country from the enemy’s hackers who are playing a big role in the hybrid war Russia has imposed on us.
Frankly speaking, this is what impressed me the most from what I saw. This is a prototype of a robot created by Hlib Kariahin, a 10th-grade student, a student of a Kyiv Lyceum. Kyiv residents and tourists could see this invention at the XIII National Science Festival which took place in the Paton Electric Welding Institute in May.
“My work is concerned with solving certain engineering problems and protecting people as they work with dangerous appliances, objects, materials etc. The main idea of the robot is to help people save their lives in difficult circumstances,” the author of the multifunctional terrestrial robotized complex (this is how this robot is officially called) explains. “At first, I wanted to create a sophisticated project which will be interesting to work on, bringing it to life. And then I started to think about how it could help people practically. And I realised that my robot can be used at war. During mine liftings or bringing ammunition, evacuation of the injured, and in radiation hazard zones. Now, it is just a model, to implement it, I have to make it bigger, put armour on it and apply more advanced technologies which I am going to do in the near future.”
Hlib, who lives in the Kyiv region, worked on his project for almost 18 months. He spent his own money to buy necessary materials: pocket money and that which he won in the Junior Academy of Sciences last year (he says that he spent about 500 USD only on that). His academic advisor Hanna Saryboha, a lecturer in the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, also contributed some money on the project.
Hlib’s robot can come up to the target, take objects and bring them where it is told to. “One of its main advantages is that the robot can be controlled remotely,” Hanna Saryboha says. “Because usually such robots are based on cables which aren’t convenient. We had no time to set special cams on it, a so-called computer vision system, to make it really intelligent. When we do, it will be able to orient by itself, see the target, discern it and come up to it. For example, if it’s something dangerous, then it would come up, take, put it on itself and leave.”
However, the crucial thing, according to Hlib and his academic advisor, for those who will be able to influence the future of the invention (in this case, it is the military) is not just to see the robot but also realise the advantage it can bring.
Safe transport stops to every town
A not less interesting and important project was offered by students of the Kyiv school №325. This invention brought them the first place in the international competition in robotics, 3D modelling and road regulations World ORT Robotraffic, which took place in the Israel Technion Institute. They won the 3D CAD category. However, 7th-grade students Marharyta Bershova and Borys Yevheniev and a 10th-grade student Illia Ostrokhov became interested in creating not robots but rather a robotized system which would help to provide traffic safety.
Later, Artem Klymenko also joined the team. He and Borys Yevheniev made a model of a safe bus stop. Taking into account the number of people dying on the roads, on bust stops particularly, the idea is quite relevant and can be very useful.
If speaking about Kyiv, the public transport network in Kyiv includes 91 bus, 47 trolleybuses and 20 tram, and more than 150 private minibus routes. In general, the city has almost 2000 bust stops, half of them are situated in narrow streets, with 40% of tram stops locating on roads.
“We have many stops and dangerous crosses near them which endanger passengers who get off trams just on the road, and for drivers who are passing by,” Borys Yevheniev explains. “For example, stops in Yaltynska, Pryvokzalna, Borysilska, Slavhorodska and other streets where trams № 22, 29, 26-d, 8 work. So, our project aims at protecting passengers on the roads when they get off transport.”
According to the student, public transport can be equipped with a special sensor which will send a signal to traffic lights also equipped with a sensor, which will react. “The system is simple: when transport is approaching traffic lights, it sends the signal, and traffic lights stop the traffic for a while. When passengers get off a tram, cars will stop at traffic lights told them so, they won’t go with high speed,” Borys says.
The students even found out that traffic lights and traffic equipment are produced and maintained by a Chernihiv company. They believe it could also assemble sensors into traffic lights. “Now, we are looking for stakeholders. We also want to submit our project for consideration to state bodies,” Anatolii Vasyliuk, the team’s advisor says. “At first, we want to go to the Kyiv City Council and the City Traffic Service. To offer our project to other cities we should investigate what cities have the same problem with tram stops.”
Keep talents in Ukraine
Although the students work independently in their school, most of the young inventors are members of the Junior Academy of Sciences. For example, Hlib Kariahin. “We have many students,” the JAS says. “All their inventions are interesting and can be useful. These are just some names which are known today not only in Ukraine – they are famous in the US, China, Poland, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Mexico and other countries. Taras Kuzyk from Chernivtsi, a JYS member, ICYS-2018 participant. Valentyn Frechka, a JYS member, GENIUS gold medallist. Sofiia Petryshyn, a JYS member, GENIUS bronze medallist. Mykola Ivanchenko, a JYS member, a winner of international contests.
The list is much longer. For example, our students took part in the International Conference of Young Scientists ICYS in Serbia and brought the record number of awards: six for five participants – gold, silver, three bronze medals and a special prize. This conference, where two hundred students from more than 30 countries take part every year, held individual competitions on Physics, Maths, Ecology and Computer Sciences for 14-18-year-old students.
An academic competition GENIUS is also considered very prestigious. It takes place in New York and focuses on environmental projects. Popular nominations are Science, Robotics, Business, Visual and Performance Art, Writing. Last year, 1400 students from 72 countries took part in the Olympiad. The JYS members also presented some projects. Among them are paper made out of fallen leaves, laser pincers, computer font for the blind etc. All five team members won awards. Three more medals were brought from a Tunis’s festival of engineering and technologies I-Fest. Mykola Ivanenko, a bronze medallist of the festival, became the first among 120 competitors in Mexico with his technology of oil spills liquidation.
“The bottom line today is to think about the future,” Stanislav Dovhy, the JYS president, explains. “Our state has got limited energetic and raw materials but along with that, it has a unique unlimited resource – our intelligent youth. Modern Ukrainian students, despite the current problems and poor-equipped schools, i.e. old appliances in Chemistry, Physics classrooms, often win in international contests. Only last year, 35 students won international scientific, scientific-technological (and others) competitions.” According to Dovhy, if Ukraine is able to use this unlimited resource and not fail to let it enter foreign universities at first, and then work in foreign labs, then they will support Ukrainian economy by taking it to a higher level.
About ten years have passed, but Ukrainian universities haven’t started to encourage the best students to study in their departments. Those students, former JYS members, who not just think well but who spend their money on robot details, not on entertainment. Perhaps, an economic breakthrough starts not from empty talks about the reasons of the crisis and explanations why we have found ourselves at the bottom and why it is hard to climb out of it, but from a real attention to such children and their inventions, doesn’t it?
Text by Larysa Vyshynska