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Pine View School’s Kevin Zhu Places Second in State STEM Fair Engineering & Competes at Intel ISEF

Kevin shares the inspiration for, and rationale behind, his award-winning project

SARASOTA COUNTY, May 2019 – It all really started when I was out biking during a thunderstorm – a dumb idea. Unsurprisingly, my phone was soaked all the way through, which meant most of its internals were fried.

After doing some research into smartphone parts, I realized that the speakers and sensors used in consumer electronics were part of a much larger subset of MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems). Micromachines and MEMS are areas of technology that specialize in miniaturizing useful tools, such as accelerometers or transducers, so that they can be used in more versatile and useful ways, like being part of smartphones. 

But what really piqued my interest was the application of MEMS in the construction of instruments such as bio scanners and laser microscopes, which directly contribute to major developments in medicine and research. That’s why I was interested in the IMG (Interdisciplinary Microsystems Group) lab at the University of Florida, which specializes in the research and optimization of MEMS devices.

As such, during the summer of my junior year, I attended a program called SSTP (Student Science Training Program). That’s where I had the opportunity to work with the IMG lab and start a project that involved increasing the scanning range of MEMS mirrors used in microscope probes and endoscopic optical systems. Hopefully, my research has the potential to enable new and more comprehensive imaging applications for MEMS devices, which could open new frontiers in medicine and research.