High School Scientista Spotlight
WHO: Yasmeen Wermers, Wissahickon High School in Philadelphia – Class of 2014
WHAT: The Launch Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a summer program that helps high school students become entrepreneurs and start their own company over the course of four weeks. The program includes classes that are taught by alumni of MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School. At the end of the program, students pitch their product to a team of investors. (www.launchsummer.org/)
WHERE: Cambridge, MA
WHEN: Summer 2013
1. Tell me about the MIT Launch program.
It was one of the best experiences of my life, because it introduced a new field to me—business (I’ve been really into science, so business was a new field). Also, it taught me about how to start a company and it proved to me that kids my age have the ability to create startups. It was an eye-opening experience for me and I also got to meet amazing people from all over the world.
2. Tell me about your project.
My group developed an anti-radiation cell phone case that looked good but at the same time blocked a lot of the radiation that is emitted through cell phones—especially smart phones. We had to get help from the MIT crew and talk to a lot of other scientists and designers to get their opinion on how we could improve our product.
3. What was the science behind your product/how did you figure it out?
A lot of metals have the ability to absorb an amount of radiation. I had to measure the amount that was already emitted from cell phones using a Geiger Counter and then tested different metals. Of course, lead is the best way to block it but it is very heavy). With the designers’ help and the scientists’ help, we decided to stick with magnesium. So it was light, and it did a great job of absorbing an amount of the radiation emitted.
4. What was it like to mix science and business? Do you think your career perspective has changed in any way after participating in this program?
I really liked how I was able to mix my love for science into business, because business drives the world and you get to be creative. In science, there are a lot of answers. So when you mix science and business you’re creating your own answers, fulfilling a need, solving a problem. I definitely think my career perspective has changed. I know I can create a start up.
5. Would you recommend this program to high school students?
I would definitely recommend this program for high school students. The name changed to Endeavor, and it will be held at Georgia Tech this year. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship and business, because, even if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur, if you want to go into consulting there is a huge portion of launch that’s applicable to consulting.
6. Any advice for high school students?
My advice for high school students is that you have got to explore. This is the time to keep exploring your interests. This is also the time you shouldn’t be afraid of failure.