Plainfield South High School sophomore Amaan Khan will compete next week in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Maryland after winning the Illinois Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in March.
Khan created and programmed a self-driving car that can drive within designated lanes, stop and go at traffic lights, and avoid obstacles.
Khan won a $2,000 college scholarship and the free trip to the national competition. He is one of two students from Illinois heading to Maryland to compete May 2 through May 5, 2018 with 93 other students from across the nation.
Competitors must submit a research paper and present their projects before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers.
Khan became interested in robotics and artificial intelligence last year after he built a voice-controlled toy car. The 15-year-old taught himself computer programing by taking online college courses, watching college lecture courses and YouTube videos.
“As I was learning I kept building the project,” Khan said. “I’d learn one thing, implement it, learn another thing and implement that.”
Patrick and Samantha Scanlan, PSHS science teachers, have supported Khan along this journey.
Samantha Scanlan helped Khan register for the state contest. Patrick Scanlan helped Khan polish his oral presentation.
“(Khan) knows what he wants and seeks out the resources to do it,” Patrick Scanlan said. “And if there’s something he needs to learn, he’s able to figure out what he needs to be successful.”
The Illinois Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is designed to challenge and engage students in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).
Students in ninth through twelfth grade compete for scholarships by presenting results of their original research before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers.
Students can compete in several categories including bioengineering, behavioral science, medicine, health, physics, engineering and environmental science.