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'It's an honour': Winnipeg teen to represent Canada at youth STEM competition

Keerthan Kamala Krishnamoorthy Keerthan Kamala Krishnamoorthy
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A Winnipeg teen is part of a group of high school students who will represent Canada at a prestigious youth STEM project competition in the United States.

Keerthan Kamala Krishnamoorthy is one of eight high school students who will make up Team Canada at the 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) next month. A panel of STEM professionals chose these students based on the ingenuity, critical thinking, scientific excellence and communication skill in their STEM projects.

The 16-year-old Winnipeg student, who attends Fort Richmond Collegiate, said he’s been working towards taking part in this competition ever since he started participating in science fairs.

“ISEF is sort of something that I’ve looked up to. It’s the highest form of a science fair that I’ve been trying for,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

“It’s an honour to be one of eight people selected from Canada to be able to go and represent Canada at this well-renowned and reputable fair.”

Keerthan found out he was selected for the competition a few weeks ago after submitting a project proposal and research plan. His project is called, ‘Detection of Harmful Microorganisms in Drinking Water using Deep Learning.’

He explained that the project is a mobile phone app that can analyze water, determine what’s in it and whether it’s safe to drink.

“It uses the help of a very inexpensive paper microscope, which is easily accessible all around the world, to help magnify the water samples so the phone camera can analyze it properly,” Keerthan said.

“Then the app will take a picture, analyze it, and tell the user what it finds and whether it’s safe to drink.”

Next month, the Grade 11 student will present this project to a panel of judges at the Regeneron ISEF. He will also get to present to the public, take part in activities, and attend an award ceremony.

Afterwards, he hopes to take his project beyond the competition.

“I’m talking with researchers at my local university, the University of Manitoba, and the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium to try and work out the kinks of this project and make sure it’s fully ready,” he said.

In the future, Keerthan hopes to study computer science and machine learning, and continue to create innovations that can help people around the world.

For now, Keerthan said he’s looking forward to attending the Regeneron ISEF and spending time with people who have similar interests to him, but he’s also nervous since it’s his first time presenting at an event of this size.

The 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair takes place from May 14 to 19 in Dallas, Texas.

- With files from CTV News Danton Unger.

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