Published on April 10th, 2018 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Students from the Center for Advanced Technical Studies take Clean Energy Program to new heights

Photo caption: From left to right- Dr. Al Gates, Director at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies, Zack Kochert (Grand Champion, senior division for male students at USC Region II Science Fair), Isaac Vardi (2nd place, senior division for male students at USC Region II Science Fair), Patrick Smallwood, Clean Energy Technology instructor at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies. 

CHAPIN – Patrick Smallwood knew he had something special brewing in his clean energy program. More specifically, the instructor at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies had an eye on two students in particular.

Zack Kochert and Isaac Vardi have different focuses in their studies at The Center, but both possess a similar trait: passion for learning. That love for clean energy is why they now can call themselves champions.

Kochert, a senior at Irmo High, was named Grand Champion in the senior division for male students at the 62nd annual University of South Carolina Region II Science and Engineering Fair. Vardi, a junior at Chapin High, received second place in the same division.

Kochert’s project entitled Optimizing Designs of Multi-Layer Microbial Fuel Cells focused on whether the bio-electrochemical device could be altered and modified in order to optimize the potential voltage output.

“This was a really fun project to be a part of and it’s gratifying to see the hard work and time put into it pay off,” Kochert said.

Both Kochert and Vardi each spent several months experimenting and testing their projects, even dating back to last summer before the 2017-2018 school year began.

“I’m just fortunate to have the opportunity to study and explore things I enjoy the most,” Vardi said, whose project Cleaner Diesel Emission via Particulate Filtration focused on solutions to reduce pollution from diesel engines.

The District Five Foundation assisted both students’ projects with $500 grants that were used for materials.

“From day one, Zack and Isaac have both been students who consistently come to me with ideas of what they’ve been thinking about,” Smallwood said. “That’s what makes me most proud as a teacher. I know as soon as they walk in the door and the three hours they spend here; they use their time efficiently.”

As part of being Grand Champion, Kochert will take his “show on the road” where he’ll compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, P.A. in May.

“These two exemplify the benefits of hard work and how effective learning by doing really is,” said Dr. Al Gates, director at The Center. “Zack and Isaac have perseverance. There are lots of people in our society who want to become great things, but don’t want to put the time or effort in. They put the work in every day. Their work validates the investment District Five has placed in The Center and we are so excited for their accomplishment!”



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