Our current student spotlight is Nick Christensen. Nick was born in Germany and moved often with his military family. He has lived in Tennessee, North Dakota and Montana before settling in Wetumpka, Alabama. He is a graduate of Wetumpka High School, where is favorite extra-curricular activities revolved around science competitions. Nick was active in the Wetumpka High School’s B.E.S.T. robotics team and captain/business manager his senior year when they took 3rd place nationally. He also competed individually in the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association contest, placing in the top ten for four years, including 2nd and 3rd place. In the national Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, he took 3rd place in engineering for a photovoltaic water distillation device. His most outstanding involvement, though, was with the science fairs, where he rose to International Science and Engineering Fair finalist four years with three different projects. Because he is hearing impaired, Nick created and tested a novel hearing aid that lowers sounds in real time for increased word recognition; with that project he won 4th, then 2nd, place in Computer Science in 2008 and 2009, as well as several international awards and scholarships.
Nick will be a junior this Fall, pioneering the new interdisciplinary program of study. Nick is building his own major involving physics, computer science, computer engineering, and mathematics. Basically, it’s a major in physics with an emphasis on computer technology. After graduation, Nick plans to continue on to graduate school, working towards a Masters and Ph. D., studying some form of alternative computing, probably either quantum computing or optical computing. Ultimately, he expects to be doing high-level scientific research on or engineering new computer technologies. Technology has almost reached the limits of what normal processors are capable of, so there is an immediate need for new types of processors, especially for “crunching” huge quantities of data. Another aspect of computing technology he wants to work on is data storage to better store huge quantities of data. The main reason he’s interested in alternative computing is being able to provide high-performance computing for major scientific research.
Nick is the founder and Executive Director of Aquosus Potentia (www.aquopotent.net), which is a non-profit organization with a website that publishes student papers on and promotes renewable resource technology, such as more efficient solar panels or water purification methods. Aquosus means water; Potentia means power. There are currently students submitting papers in health-related water issues from arsenic poisoning to cholera outbreak in Haiti, methods of water purification, legal cases involved with contamination and water rights, the efficiency of battery-operated cars, solar stirling engines, biofuels, and even bioponics.
One of the long-range goals is to work together to cap canals to produce potable water and solar energy, but the first step is pursuing research grants. A more immediate goal Nick is working on for his Honor Thesis is to enhance solar panels using a tiny microprocessor as a power point tracker. Aquosus Potentia will research this as a team as soon as funding is found. In the meantime, each student’s individual papers work together to help build a mosaic share point of information, including a data pool of links and bibliographies.
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