Local students recognized as state’s top ‘young innovators’

Two Lexington-Richland School District Five graduates have been awarded the South Carolina Young Innovator Award.


From left: Alexa Eyring and Kayla Shine. (Photo provided)

Kayla Shine from Dutch Fork High School, now a freshman at Clemson University, and Alexa Eyring from Chapin High School, received the honor at the 18th Annual InnoVision Awards Dinner on November 3 in Greenville. Both won for their research done at the district’s Center for Advanced Technical Studies (The Center).

The Young Innovator Program is a statewide competition designed to recognize excellence in high school research. This marks the second-straight year District Five students have won this award, district officials said.

Shine and Eyring worked together in Biomedical Innovations at The Center to design an improved version of the Universal Hand Cuff Feeding Utensil. The device is intended for use for people with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and other ailments that affect hand grip or strength. The device makes feeding easier for patients suffering from these diseases.

In addition to winning the S.C. Young Innovator Award, Shine and Eyring also won first-grand award in the team division at the 2016 Region II Science and Engineering Fair, a first-place engineering award where they were nominated to present in I-SWEEEP (The International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project) at the 2016 USC Region II Science and Engineering Fair. The pair also won first place in Physiology and Health at the South Carolina Junior Academy of Science, and bronze at the 2016 I-SWEEEP Project in Houston, Texas.

“This is an incredible accomplishment that for the second straight year, students from The Center have won the S.C. Young Innovator of the Year award,” said Center instructors Julie Krusen and Patrick Smallwood.

“This has never been accomplished before,” they added in a statement. “For Kayla and Alexa to win this award, it demonstrates the caliber of quality research conducted here at The Center in multiple STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs. Each year, student research at The Center continues to improve with numbers of student participants and awards, increased grant funding, and access to cutting-edge technology. Since The Center opened, the number of recognized student-research accomplishments has continued to climb, and we are extremely proud of this growth.”

The Center’s Director, Bob Couch, beamed with pride talking about the students.

“I am so proud of Kayla and Alexa,” he said. “They took full advantage of their learning experience here at The Center. Our students constantly amaze me with their intelligence, drive, and desire to make a difference in the world.”

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