Technology

STEM Champion: 14-year-old Alaina Gassler Eliminates Car Blind Spots

Alaina Gassler has just won a prestigious $25,000 STEM prize for her webcam and projection method of "making car pillars invisible."

08.11.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo of Alaina Gassler. Screenshot from her award video
Photo of Alaina Gassler. Screenshot from her award video

Blind spots in cars are as frustrating as they are dangerous. While most are aware of the spot behind the driver, hiding overtaking vehicles, they don’t think as often about the pillars that connect the windshield to the doors—a particular issue when merging at junctions and trying to avoid oncoming vehicles and crossing pedestrians.

Fourteen-year-old Alaina Gassler saw her mum struggling with such issues in the family car. So despite being far away from able to get behind the wheel, she decided to do something about it.

And, earlier this month, the young inventor from Pennsylvania won a prestigious STEM prize, worth $25,000, for her innovative solution for making those car pillars “invisible.”

As reported in the New York Times, Alaina Gassler’s project “Improving Automobile Safety by Removing Blind Spots” was selected as the winner from 30 candidates for the Samueli Foundation Prize during this year’s Broadcom MASTERS competition.

“There are so many car accidents and injuries and deaths that could have been prevented from a pillar not being there, and since we can’t take it out of cars, I decided to get rid of it without getting rid of it,” she added in her award video.

“I did that by having a camera behind the pillar of the car and the camera sent video to a projector that projected the image onto the pillar.”

Glasser was selected for her project and for her leadership, communication skills and teamwork with other students.

“I speak for Henry and Susan Samueli as well as the Broadcom Foundation to express our excitement in awarding the Samueli Foundation Prize to Alaina for her remarkable achievements in all of the STEM challenges as well as her leadership in competition throughout week,” Paula Golden, President of the Broadcom Foundation, told the Daily Mail.

“She, along with the entire Class of 2019, are already leaders in their fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These young innovators give every one of us hope for the future.”

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