• Kyodo

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An 18-year-old aspiring engineer from Chiba has received the highest award in engineering mechanics in the world’s largest pre-college scientific research contest.

Takahiro Ichige, a third-year student at Chiba Municipal Chiba High School, won this year’s award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in May after creating a simple power-saving tool for the motors used in air conditioners and other devices.

Approximately 1,700 students took part in the event.

Ichige, the second Japanese to become a category winner, is making preparations to file for patent protection on his work.

Ichige said when he was a child he was intrigued by the motors used in plastic models, especially toy four-wheel-drive cars.

He then began to read specialized books on the subject in junior high school.

“Theoretical studies are an extension of engineering work,” Ichige said. “I like applying engineering principles to things close to us.”

Ichige’s hard work was first recognized when as a first-year high school student he won third prize for his studies on how to stabilize the rotation of motors in a science contest.

He participated in Intel ISEF for the first time the following year and won fourth prize.

After returning from the event, Ichige began working on trying to reduce the amount of electricity consumed by stepper motors, spending 16 hours a day on experiments at his home during summer vacation. A good hurdler, he even skipped summer training to concentrate on his studies.

Ichige qualified to participate in Intel ISEF for the second year in a row after winning first prize in a domestic contest.

After winning the best category award at Intel ISEF in May, he said, “I felt relieved because I was worried about whether I would be able to get across to the judges in English.”

Ichige dreams of becoming an automobile designer.

“I want to produce electric vehicles that people will love and that can contribute to the reduction of global warming,” he said.

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