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Texan Charles Johnson Wins for Demonstrating Life-Long Inventiveness

CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 2, 1999 — The Lemelson-MIT Program announced today that Charles Johnson is the winner of its second annual high school invention apprenticeship award. Johnson, a 12th grader from Hamilton, TX attending Hamilton High School, was selected from a talented pool of candidates for demonstrating a life-long interest in invention and strong track record of creative problem solving.

Charles began inventing at a very young age, mainly to solve problems that he faced around his house. One of his early inventions, for example, was a "Baby Buzzer" designed to help keep his baby cousins off of staircases. Between the fifth and eighth grades, Charles invented a series of devices aimed at helping others, including the "Carthritis," a device to help his arthritic grandmother start her car, and "Bovine Twine," environmentally-friendly, edible twine for baling hay.

More recently, after becoming intensely interested in the increasing number of train-vehicle collisions in Texas and nationally, Charles developed a Train Detecting Device, which warns motorists of oncoming trains. It is the invention of which he is proudest, given the large amount of time he spent researching the problem.

Charles wants to pursue a career in medicine, a desire he believes is directly fueled by his interest in invention.

The judges for the Lemelson-MIT Apprenticeship were very impressed with the enthusiasm, accomplishments and commitment to invention that Charles demonstrated: "Charles is inspiring. He's one of those people who sees all the problems in his world as opportunities, and more than that, he sees solutions," said judge David Levy, an MIT alumnus and winner of the 1996 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize , an annual invention award for MIT students. "Basically, he's an inventor at heart. I love what he has done so far, and I am eager to see what he does in the future."

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Administered by MIT, The Lemelson-MIT High School Invention Apprenticeship is an annual experiential award given to an American high school student (9th-12th grades) for remarkable inventiveness. The Apprenticeship is designed to provide hands-on experience in a scientific and technological environment. Depending upon career interests, the winning student is paired with a leading scientist, technologist, engineer or entrepreneur — anywhere in the country — who serves as "Invention Mentor." The student spends up to three weeks with his or her Invention Mentor, in order to learn more about the process of inventing first-hand.

Charles' "Invention Mentor" will be Dr. Carmen Egido, Director and General Manager of the Applications and Content Architecture Laboratory at Intel Corporation. Dr. Egido's organization develops new concepts, technologies, and applications that enable new uses for powerful PCs in both business and consumer settings.

Charles is excited about the opportunity to work with Egido: "Dr. Egido sounded very interesting. Her work to integrate computers into the home could also be applied to the medical field—for example, to develop a way of alerting others of a medical emergency. Besides, I know that I’ll need computer knowledge in anything I do, and this Apprenticeship will be a great way for me to gain such knowledge."

Specially tailored to the student's interests and experience, the Invention Apprenticeship will give Charles an opportunity to apply his classroom learning to a project of his own or one at Dr. Egido's lab in Hillsboro, OR. Charles will also serve as an inspirational role model for other young people. Last year, Krysta Morlan, an 11th grader attending Vacaville High School in California, received the inaugural Lemelson-MIT High School Invention Apprenticeship. She spent two weeks last summer at The Lemelson Assistive Technology Center (LATDC) at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, developing a prototype water bicycle that has both therapeutic and recreational uses.

Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Lemelson-MIT Program was established in 1994 by the late independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy. The Program celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards including the world's largest for invention, the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. The Program encourages young Americans to pursue careers in the fields of science, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship. The Lemelson-MIT Program is funded by the Lemelson Foundation, which supports other invention initiatives at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Hampshire College, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Read more about Charles Johnson.

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