Age: 17Sunnyvale, CA
Project Title: An early warning AI-powered portable system to reduce workload and inspect environmental damage after natural disasters
Despite supreme human achievement of domesticating fire, taming fires remains an act that relies on human ingenuity. I was inspired by firefighter’s bravery and sacrifice to find a way to make search and rescue operations safer for these dedicated professionals. I have developed a multi-spectral sensing and inspection drone with automated target identification, decision-making and robotic retrieval. It can operate in dangerous environments to make search and rescue operations safer and more accessible. The prototype has four key functioning modules: Search and inspection drone with multispectral sensors; AI powered intelligent base station; Portable water quality spectral analyzer; and Rescue retrieval system based on robotic crawler and hand.
Hi! I am Aryia Dattamajumdar, and I am a rising senior at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California. I am incredibly excited to be part of an amazing group of young innovators, artists, and scientists who dream of changing the world for the better. I remain awed by past Davidson Fellows’ significant contributions to our society to ameliorate sufferings and surface new knowledge. It is an honor to be part of such an accomplished group. To quote Ben Franklin – “tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.” I am deeply grateful to all my mentors and teachers who have stimulated my curiosity and given me the opportunity to disrupt, innovate, and create. I am especially grateful to Professor Keat of Union College, Schenectady, New York for his guidance and mentorship and to Mrs. Favata, my AP Statistics teacher, who kindled a love for statistics. Their belief in me and their encouragement through the many trials and tribulations has been a constant source of inspiration when the chips are down.
The heart-rending stories of bravery and ultimate sacrifice of our valiant fire-fighters has been the inspiration for my research. “Courage is not living without fear. Courage is being scared to death and doing the right thing anyway” - who better to inspire than our firefighters. With 1.3 million household fires, 3400 civilian deaths, $23 billion in damages – a fire department is called to action every 24 seconds. Despite supreme human achievement of domesticating fire, taming fires remains an act that relies on human ingenuity. 450 firefighters made the ultimate sacrifice in 9/11 NYC terrorist attacks. In 2017, 52 of the 87 firefighter deaths were due to overexertion and 48 who died were volunteers. These victims were often surprised by poisonous gases, HAZMAT situations and hidden objects, while confined spaces challenged firefighter’s access. I was inspired by firefighter’s bravery and sacrifice to find a way to make search and rescue operations safer for these dedicated professionals.
I have developed a multi-spectral sensing and inspection drone with automated target identification, decision-making and robotic retrieval. It can operate in dangerous environments to make search and rescue operations safer and more accessible. The prototype has four key functioning modules: Search and inspection drone with multispectral sensors; AI powered intelligent base station; Portable water quality spectral analyzer; and Rescue retrieval system based on robotic crawler and hand. The search module has four mounted sensors i.e. gas sensor to evaluate environment, thermal camera to detect hidden objects, unlocked sensors like GPS and visual camera, and a wireless communicator. Gas sensor monitors rescue operation viability while visual and thermal cameras detect search targets. AI powered intelligent base station receives target images and GPS from search system and automatically searches for target. Obstacle avoidance was done with ultrasonic sensors and is continuing to be developed. The water quality analyzer could detect changes in concentrations of solutes such as salt and sugars. It provides a quick, easy-to-use, low-cost way to assess water turbidity empowering incident commanders at natural disaster sites to minimize environment impact of fire-retardant runoffs. I showed my prototype results to Sunnyvale fire department. The officers were very enthusiastic of the utility of such a system for HAZMAT situations and combating wildfire situations.
Putting together the prototype took way more effort than I had thought. I was inspired by figuring out why salt water was blue while freshwater was clear? I started my experiments in middle school pulling together basic circuits with LEDs and LDRs. A chance meeting with firefighters at the neighborhood night out changed my perspective of the hard jobs that they have to do – did you know that a firefighter has to carry an additional 45-75 pounds of gear? I built a gas sensor to start understanding if poisonous gases could be detected and later enhanced the circuit to detect the quantity of gas. But without access to calibrated amounts of gas in a chemistry lab, I had to make do with qualitative results. I next built a drone from a low-cost kit and was so thrilled when it took off the first time. Of course, a crash soon followed, and the propellers tore out. Getting the balance just right was a lesson in persistence and iteration. And disappointments followed when the drone could not lift off with the sensor payload. Continued challenges were in seamless integration of the many modules of the search and rescue system that I had built over time. And then came the challenges of building and iterating the control software. Ben Franklin came to the rescue again as my teacher reminded me of his saying “… energy and persistence conquer all things.” As I moved the system outside of the home cocoon to field testing, a number of reliability challenges surfaced with hard landings of the drone. I have found a whole new appreciation for the world of engineering and the patience and persistence needed to put together working systems of software and hardware. The guidance I received from Professor Keat was instrumental in me sticking with the project idea over multiple years. I am now working on getting my drone license for further testing.
I have lived an itinerant life and attended 7 different schools as my parents have moved multiple times across continents and the United States – this has given me a unique resilience and can-do spirit. My early science fair experiences were in Wisconsin and later when my parents moved to Bangalore, India during my elementary school years. A huge memory of my early years was the opportunity to learn the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam and perform my Arangetram (highest honor in dance) – a 3-hour solo dance performance in front of an audience of over 500 people. The move back to Silicon Valley was a pivotal time for me. I won my first major science fair in Cupertino, CA for my project on detecting nutritional value of food for people with hypertension. We moved to Niskayuna, New York, and I met Professor William Keat during my freshman year of high school. Dr. Keat’s guidance has been so instrumental in overcoming resistance of failures.
My high school science fair career started just before my freshman year in New York when I won first place at the Cupertino City Science Fair in 2016. Once I moved to New York I would spend hours in my basement at night working on my projects, and I was ecstatic when I had the chance to present my work. In 2017 I won the Golub Health Sciences Award at Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair. Later that year I won first place at the NY STEAM Fair. In 2018, I won the Grand Prize at the Eastern New York Science fair, the Scientific American Award, the first prize from Air Force Research Lab, and the prestigious RPI scholarship of $40,000 for “best in show.” I presented my research at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh and received great feedback from NSA Research directorate and US Naval and Marine Corps. I won first place at the NY STEAM Fair for my project once again. As an active member of Science Olympiads throughout high school, I have won several awards at invitationals, regionals, and states. In 2019, I was fortunate to win the first prize from American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Silicon Valley Synopsys Science and Technology Championships. I also placed 2nd overall in the grand physical sciences and engineering category and received the US Metric Association Award. I moved on to the California State Science and Engineering Fair and placed 5th in my category. As a sophomore, I was selected to attend Harvard Science and Research Conference to learn of the incredible work going on in neurosciences. As a rising junior, I had an opportunity to attend the Yale Young Global Scholars program in the Frontiers of Science and Technology program. These opportunities have shaped my perspectives to science and technology and helped me understand the value of persistence, patience, and continued learning and to not ever give up on dreams and aspirations.
I plan to pursue a career in STEM and be able to bring real innovations that solve societal problems to life. Or better yet, I may invent my own major that combines a number of disciplines. No matter what major I take on, I know that I want to be an innovator who impacts society. I am so grateful to Davidson Institute for supporting a path to continue this STEM research journey and giving me an opportunity to be part of such an august community.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do after high school so 10 years is way to far ahead for me to know what I want to do. However, whatever I do I hope to remain in the field of cutting edge STEM innovation.
If you could have dinner with the five most interesting people in the world, living or dead, who would they be?
Sal Khan, Thomas Edison, Sundar Pichai, Grace Hopper, Alan Turing
If you could be on any TV show, which one would it be?Shark Tank
In the News
Aryia Dattamajumdar to be awarded $10,000 as a 2019 Davidson Fellow Scholarship Winner
San Jose, Calif. – The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has announced the 2019 Davidson Fellows Scholarship winners. Among the honorees are Cynthia Chen, 17, of Cupertino; Natasha Maniar, 17, and Aryia Dattamajumdar, 17, of Sunnyvale; and Anna Quinlan, 18, of Atherton. Only 20 students across the country are recognized as scholarship winners each year.
Dattamajumdar, a rising senior at Fremont High School, was inspired by the dangers of fighting fires to develop her project, An early warning AI-powered portable system to reduce workload and inspect environmental damage after natural disasters. The multi-spectral sensing and inspection drone with automated target identification, decision-making and robotic retrieval can be deployed and operate in dangerous environments to make search and rescue operations safer and more accessible.
Click here to download the full press release
Click the image to download hi-res photos of Aryia:
Started in 1999, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation. Our mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people ages 18 and under, and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.
Profoundly gifted students are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. Read more about this population in this article.