VN student wins US invention prize


Update: May, 29/2017 – 05:00

Phạm Quang Huy
HÀ NỘI — “When my name was voiced out, my whole body was shaking. I even burst into tears stepping on the stage and receiving the award.”Phạm Quang Huy, 11th grade student in central Quảng Trị Province recalled his experience in the US more than one week ago.

Huy won the third prize of Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2017 in California for his invention of a robotic prosthetic arm designed for the disabled. His invention competed with more than 1,700 contestants from more than 70 countries all over the world.

Earlier this year in March, Huy’s invention was one of five products winning first prize at 2016-2017 national science and technology competition in northern region and was nominated for the international contest in the US.

Huy came up with the idea more than three years ago when he was a grade 8 student after watching a TV show about a robotic arm designed for people with disabilities in the US.

Huy’s hometown, Quảng Trị Province, is home to a lot of disabled people who suffered from war aftermath of bombs and mines or traffic accidents.

“I am always willing to design a device that helps improve lives of unlucky people with low income who lost their arm or part of arm,” Huy said about his invention at an affordable cost of nearly VNĐ3 million (US$134).

“There are many designs of supportive arms for the disabled in the world, however, the products of the same expense as mine has quite simple design. At VNĐ3million, the foreign ones are made of wood or plastic without combined electric circuit. Advanced products using brainwave are of very high cost (more than $100,000). Vietnamese impaired people hardly afford it”

The arm is operated based on a sensor system equipped in the shoe and the joint between the calf and the foot. The movement of four toes which direct four buttons in the toe box will order the bending and stretching of five fingers. The movement sensor helps direct the rotation of the hand and the arm.

The robotic arm, according to Huy, uses 3D printing technology for its outer part.

Being passionate about designation, Huy learned by himself programming and hardware design from the Internet. He asked for explanation of seniors if there were any difficulties. All electronic components and devices were ordered in Hà Nội and Đà Nẵng.

The original version of the robotic arm was finished one year ago with the support of Lê Công Long, a physics teacher at Quảng Trị Town’s high school and won prizes of an online competition and provincial level contests.

The final product presented in the US has 31 independent movements and made of Polylactic Acid plastic instead of mica plastic like the original one.

The arm can hold light objects such as aluminium spoons, water cups, 2-kg weight and carry 11kg objects.

According to Associate Professor Nghiêm Ngọc Minh, deputy head of Genetic Study Institute under Việt Nam Academy of Social Sciences, head of ISEF judging committee, the robotic arm has been improved and is able to rotate, create 90-degree angle and hold more than 10-kg objects.

“Huy tested his invention on the war veterans in his hometown before presenting it to the international competition. This product holds social and humanitarian meanings,” he said.

Passion and challenges

Huy’s passion for scientific invention and designation has been inspired by his father who is only a local motorbike repairman.

Phạm Xuân Đính, Huy’s father, said that his son is so passionate that Huy stayed awake through the night for many times to find solutions to his product. For many times, he was worried as his son distracted from study.

“I am really proud of his son as the product has a humanitarian meaning and makes contribution to his hometown,” Đính said.

Phạm Thị Luyện, 73, Huy’s grandmother said that his room is always full of electronic devices, materials serving his inventions’ experiments. Since Huy was at secondary school, he sneakily asked her money to buy electronic components to design and assemble products.

However, before Huy’s trip to the US, the whole family was worried as the talented boy’s visa application was denied twice by US Embassy in Ha Noi. Not until about 12 hours before the flight to the US on May 13, he was granted visa at the very last minutes.

Sharing after the triumph, Huy said that he would continue further improve the arm’s weaknesses and share knowledge for those having common passion.

“If I have condition, I will operate a system to manufacture the arm in massive number to serve Vietnamese people with disabilities,” he said. — VNS

This entry was posted in IT - Information Technology - Công nghệ thông tin, Tuổi trẻ - Youth and tagged , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development ( I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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