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10 Students. 10 Issues. 10 Journeys.

Ten Intel ISEF 2010 Finalists were selected by the 100 People Foundation to attend the Techonomy Conference in Lake Tahoe from August 2-4. The conference explored the way technology can support a new economy – a blending of which lead to the term “Techonomy” – by using innovative ways to solve some of the world’s leading problems and contribute to a higher quality of life. The Techonomy website explains, “Techonomy embodies an engineering can-do spirit and emphasizes solutions that scale up…Techonomy celebrates the notion that humanity can invent its way out of the messes it has helped create.”

The ten Finalists’ projects covered some of today’s most pressing issues:  food, transportation, health, economy, water, education, energy, war, waste management, and shelter. The students attended sessions, such as Can the world be turned in a techonomic direction? and Harnessing information to create a more efficient, equitable world, and interviewed world leaders in technology, including Bill Gates , founder of Microsoft and a global philanthropist (pictured above with the Finalists), and Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems.

“Going into the conference I was not expecting to learn a lot about education or how it applies to me since the conference was about technology, but I was very mistaken,” said Lindsey Saunders, whose Intel ISEF project examined reading comprehension. “It appeared very clear to me by the end of the week that having an education is what empowers us to do the incredible things going on around the world. The men and women at the conference never gave up on their education and that is an inspiration to me, as I am sure is to everyone else. When I find faults in my research or in everyday life, I need to just carry on and try hard to learn from that and continue my education.”

Matthew McIntyre, whose project focused on a possible solution to the worldwide Malaria epidemic, spoke with Bill Gates, on health issues. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has championed the eradication of Malaria, setting the goal of a safe, affordable vaccine by 2025. Matt said of his interviewee, “He is one of the smartest people on this planet and perhaps the most interesting to talk to because he knows how to state facts very eloquently and the extent of his knowledge is seemingly limitless. He was very easy to talk to and very personable.” Matt also said of his experience, “what really stuck in my mind was after breakfast one day…one of the workers said to me ‘Thank you and have a productive day.’ Only at Techonomy do you get that.”

Brandon Li, who proposed a more efficient way to filter water, said, “one of the best pieces of advice that I received… was to be open to group-work and to try not to do things on one’s own because ‘none of us are self-made,’” In the same spirit of collaboration, he said he enjoyed getting to know the other Finalists at the conference as they were all very knowledgeable and sociable. “I anticipate keeping close contact with them in the future. I hope that with our broad collective skill set, the 10 of us become the Techonomists of the next generation.”

The Ten Intel ISEF 2010 Finalists who Attended Techonomy (Pictured with Bill Gates)

Tiffanie Stone, 18, MN – FOOD
Erika DeBenedictis, 18, NM – TRANSPORTATION
Matthew McIntyre, 17, NY – HEALTH
Talia Greene, 15, FL – ECONOMY
Brandon Li, 18, NY – WATER
Lindsey Saunders, 16, FL – EDUCATION
William Wright, 17, MT – ENERGY
Marian Bechtel, 15, PA – WAR
John Boykin, 15, OH – WASTE MANAGEMENT
Frances Atkins, 17, CA – SHELTER


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