In the news (once again!)
Ricky Housley, Inly School ’08, recently won first place at the South Shore Regional Science Fair and has been selected to represent Massachusetts Region V at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on May 13-19th in Pittsburgh. He will also present at the MassMEDIC conference in Boston and compete at the 2012 Mass State Science and Engineering Fair on May 4-5th at MIT. Ricky has already racked up numerous prizes for his “Emergency Convulsive Seizure Detection and Notification System,” a device he engineered that detects a convulsive seizure, and texts the individual’s GPS location to emergency personnel. Last year Ricky earned first place in the Mass State Science and Engineering Fair, and we’ll be rooting for him once again!
A senior this year at Boston University Academy (BUA), Ricky is Vice Captain of the BUA Robotics Team and plays on the varsity soccer team. While a student at Inly Middle School, Ricky started a robotics club and also shared his expertise by teaching robotics in the Inly After School Program.
Given the young inventor’s busy schedule, we were lucky to catch up with him during Inly’s Invention Convention week, to ask for his thoughts on the art and science of invention.
Q: What kind of qualities do you think it takes to be a successful inventor?
Creative vision, persistence, and creativity.
People always say that inventors and scientists see things in the world differently. Usually, they are implying that these inventors and scientists can take things apart in their minds and essentially figure out how they work. While this may be true, it isn’t what makes an inventor successful.
An inventor is successful when he views the distasteful things in life not “as is” but as broken, as something that can be fixed. Initially, this may sound like a pessimistic perception of life, but really it’s an optimistic one; it means that we are not stuck in the way things currently are, but we are able to better everything around us.
Successful inventors notice, and fix the things in the world that have not reached perfection. Dean Kamen recognized that diabetics were not receiving the optimal form of treatment and developed the insulin pump as a result. [Note: Kamen invented the first portable infusion pump when he was still an undergrad at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. At age 30 he sold his first company, AutoSyringe, and later invented the Segway!]
Persistence: Things rarely ever work the first time and the only solution is to keep on trying.
Creativity: When things don’t work, one needs the creativity to come up with new, and different solutions. To quote the cliche, sometimes you just have to “think outside of the box.”
Q: What does creativity have to do with invention? Isn’t science pretty cut and dry, black and white, whereas creativity has more to do with the arts?
Creativity is not only relevant to the art of invention, but it is required. Invention requires the ability to think of different approaches and solutions to a problem. To relate this to a personal experience of mine: recently I required a lot of acceleration data for a science fair project I have been working on (a convulsive seizure detection and notification system). Unfortunately there is zero publicly available data. So, instead of giving up and moving on I spent a long time brainstorming trying to come up with a solution and ultimately it worked; I was able to abstract the data from videos of patients having convulsive seizures.
Q: What advice do you have for young people interested in pursuing science or engineering?
Learn public speaking. One often overlooked subject in the field of STEM is speaking. Inventions are great for personal use, but it is best to share them with the world and the only way to do this is through effective communication. (This is where I found Inly really helped me out.)
Q: What are your plans for the future?
I will be attending college in the near future. I am currently undecided as to which college, though I do have it narrowed down to Stevens Institute of Technology or The University of Rochester. There I will be majoring in computer engineering and will hopefully receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years, as I qualified for a five-year master’s program in both schools. Hopefully I will be able to continue my work developing medical devices, and hopefully the patent application I have pending will be approved.