Cherry Creek High student wins $75,000 for science fair project on spinal surgery

Krithik Ramesh was trying to improve his score at a dance video game when he started thinking about how it tracked his motions and compared them to the perfect moves.

Then he started thinking about what other that technology could do, and after six months of long nights working, he had an idea to change how surgeons operate on the human spine.

“I was inquisitive if I could apply the same motion-tracking system to radiology,” he aforementioned.

Krithik, 16, this month won the top prize and $75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where more than 1,800 teens from 80 countries conferred their projects. He was one of about 25 Colorado students who won a local or state competition and qualified to attend this year’s fair, which was held in Phoenix.

A Cherry Creek High School student, Krithik had tied for first place in the mechanical engineering category last year for a project to reduce strain on airplane wings, and given the $3,000 he won to install star panels on schools with poor access to electricity in rural India.

“A lot of people were astonied, just the jump from planes to spines,” he aforementioned of this year’s entry.

Krithik Ramesh shows images from a program he designed to assist surgeons when operational on the human spine on Friday, May 24, 2019.

galore neurosurgeons use radiology — a kind of continuous X-ray, or “X-ray movie” — to provide them an image of the spine, so they can right insert screws to stabilize it. unfortunately, the technique exposes patients to a comparatively high radiation dose, which carries its own health risks.

Krithik’s idea was to train a computer to predict how spines and the tissues around them move over the course of a surgery, so the patient would only have to get one image, so much as an MRI or CT scan, before the surgery.

For the project, he used about 32,000 images to teach the computer, which then could build three-dimensional images of any spine given to it. He used accrued reality software program program and the Microsoft HoloLens telephone receiver to project an image over any the user is looking at — think “Pokemon Go,” but with bones instead of fuzzy creatures.

The idea would have to go through extensive testing to prove the information it gave was as good or better than the current standard of care, since, obviously, a science fair project couldn’t use actual patients. If it worked well enough for medical use, however, surgeons could see the accrued-reality images superimposed over patients on the table, allowing them to visualize where to place the spinal screws to avoid hit nerves, blood vessels and other sensitive tissues.

About one-quarter of the students who vie in the Intel Science Fair in a typical year have created thing that they could patent, like Krithik’s idea, aforementioned Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of Society for Science and the Public, which puts on the event. galore eventually start businesses rooted in their science fair projects, she aforementioned.

“Every year we get pretty extraordinary projects,” she aforementioned. “You want to invest in these kids.”

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
Krithik Ramesh posed for a photograph in his home on Friday, May 24, 2019.

Krithik has always been driven to explore what he can do with science, aforementioned his dad, Ramesh babu, who comes from a part of India where family name career untypically aren’t passed down and children use their fathers’ first name career. Krithik’s first project, in sixth grade, was trying to put star panels on window blinds.

“That was just a fun project for him, exploring what he could do,” he aforementioned.

At that age, most of us are testing which potting soil will grow the tallest grass. But everybody has a different idea of a starter project.

His parents bought tools for the projects, like software program program and a 3-D printer, but Krithik has done all the work to figure out how to use it, babu aforementioned. For examinationple, when Krithik was in eighth grade, he got a certification from the Colorado School of Mines so he could learn how to use the software program program he needed for a project.

Krithik’s mom, Karpagavalli Kumar, works at Boeing and asked her colleague, Thomas Letts, to mentor the boy with his first aviation-related projects. Letts, who works in external product implementation, aforementioned Krithik came with “grand ideas,” and as a mentor he guided him to focus on a specific goal, to test his assumptions and to find experts when he ran into the limits of his acquaintances’ knowledge. He aforementioned he besides urged Krithik to try a different field this year, following several projects related to jet wings and engines.

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“He will do great property for world in his life, and it will be engrossing to see what path he takes,” he aforementioned.

On Friday, though, the next challenge was an Advanced Placement examination in comparative government, and then he could take a few weeks off before a summer fellowship in medicine technology at the University of Trento in northern Italy. Then comes senior year, and hopelessly one more trip to the science fair big leagues.

“I unquestionably want to vie again,” Krithik aforementioned. “It’s an experience. The people you meet there are some of the kindest and smartest you’ll ever meet.”