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Science Sundays: Brothers take top place at international science fair

Posted at 11:36 AM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 14:36:48-04

(KERO) — Earlier this week 23ABC told you about our local Kern County science fair winners who took home big awards at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) the largest science competition in the world!

Two brothers from Stockdale High School competed with different projects, taking first and second place in the "biomedical engineering" category. Though the competition was virtual this year due to the pandemic, that didn't slow these students down as they competed on the world's stage.

Harjaisal Brar, a freshman at Stockdale High School, went from the Kern County Science Fair to the California State Science Fair to the International Science and Engineering Fair in just a matter of weeks. At ISEF he earned second place in the "biomedical engineering" category for "a novel 3d printed ventilator for COVID-19," a project he started working on in April 2020 after hearing about the ventilator shortage at the beginning of the pandemic.

"The amount of great scientists I got to meet, it was really inspiring. We actually had a great session where we got to speak to some of the scientists at johnson & johnson to discuss our research and hear about their research and it was just really inspiring and a great experience overall," said Harjaisal. "After I read the headlines, I started researching what caused the shortages so I could avoid those problems when I created my ventilator. And according to my research, these shortages were mostly caused by high costs, as well as supply chain constraints with current designs. And 3-D printing was an effective solution to both of these problems. Because 3-D printing filament and UV resin is extremely low cost and can print on basically any 3-D printer, which means that parts can be produced wherever there is a 3-d printer, which is basically everywhere now."

So he started designing 3-D components on his computer, then he worked on the mechanism that makes it operate, and then he added the electric motor. Finally, he incorporated a piston, which allows for the usage of water and air if electricity is not available. That means his lifesaving device could be used in rural and developing nations!

Next comes clinical trials of his device.

He says he'd like to publish all his design files online for anyone who wants to 3-D print or donate a ventilator. That's right, no patent, no payday, for this Stockdale freshman.

"I'm hoping to keep this ventilator open to anyone who would like to produce it, just because it's an essential thing," he said. "It's one of the most useful, most used, medical devices. And it doesn't make sense that someone should die or have to suffer just because they cannot get access to one of these ventilators."

At ISEF, Harjaisal also won a special award from the King Abdul-Aziz & His Companions Foundation for "giftedness and creativity."

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW:

23ABC Interview: ISEF Winner Harjaisal Brar

His older brother Ishaan, a Stockdale senior, took first place in their "biomedical engineering category" for "designing, prototyping and testing a novel urinary catheter with tesla valves and a micro-porous membrane." Ishaan also earned a special award from the Central Intelligence Agency.

"Getting the opportunity to interact with judges who work really close to what my research was. Hearing from professionals who work on things like valves and hearts, it just really sets into perspective the research you are doing and how meaningful it can be," said Ishaan. "Another great aspect of ISEF is just talking to the community of students. Talking to others from around the world who came together and speaking to several of them, it was great to build bonds across different countries in this competition. You know, overall, it was just such an exciting educational experience and I can't believe that it's over! It was just outstanding."