ERIE, Colo. (CBS4) Every month during the school year, CBS4, along with Colorado School of Mines & PDC Energy, award the Future Leaders award to a high school student, who is excelling in the STEM fields. CBS4 is committed to recognizing those students even while they're learning from home.
The Future Leader winner for May is Andrew Woen, a rising senior at Peak to Peak Charter School. While he excels at his classes, Woen is already working to help the world around him.
"This is my recycling device," Woen said in a home video.
Woen built a device, called ReDetect. It attaches to waste containers and will tell you if a product can be recycled. He coded the device to recognize the difference between products.
"I worked with Eco-Cycle to try to start implementing the recycling devices on Pearl Street, where there are high rates of tourism, and people don't know what to recycle. Sadly, that's been delayed due to the coronavirus," Woen explained.
He took the technology and made it into an app, which is plans to release for free this summer.
"It's the idea that we shouldn't make it easy to know how to recycle, it's that we should make it too hard not to recycle," he told CBS4.
Woen finds it hard not to come at any problem head on.
"I learned that a long time ago, when my Dad had cancer. And I learned that I can't be sad forever, I need to use my sadness and make it into something," Woen said.
He got an internship at the University of Colorado Boulder studying how low frequency electromagnetic energy impacts cancer cells.
"In the future, I want to combine that machine learning, neuro-network aspect with that medical care, so that daily biometrics are able to diagnose some different disease, even cancer a lot earlier than we do right now," he said.
This year, Woen pulled together all the great coders at his school to form a Computer Science Honor Society. The group held some fun courses for elementary and middle school students, and programmed some projects to help their school.
"Two of my favorite projects are the attendance systems that we created, and the OCR, optical character recognition software. All the teachers love that, and it's been going really, really well," he said.
He tutors math, writes songs, plays guitar and piano, and he paints, all to help keep him balanced and connected. And, if that's not enough, he's got a new idea in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I want to try to use robotics and some sort off sanitation device to help hospitals clean doorknobs and areas, just to make it safer to traverse those areas."
Woen has no shortage of innovative and amazing ideas.
LINK: Future Leaders
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