Alexander hits an ace with top science prize
HIS love of tennis and technology helped an aspiring computer developer win one of the top awards at a major European-wide science contest yesterday.
Alexander Amini (15), from Dublin, won the top prize in computing at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Helsinki, Finland.
The sixth-year student at Castleknock College beat out hundreds of young scientists from 37 countries across Europe to be one of three first prize winners in different categories.
The other winners included a contestant from Lithuania, who won the first prize in medicine for his study of the role of houseflies in spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria, while the top gong in engineering went to a Swiss student, who developed a revolutionary camming device, which is designed to allow mountain, rock and industrial climbers to grip on to surfaces.
But it was the young tennis enthusiast's "Tennis Sensor Data Analysis" project that wowed the international judging panel. The same project also won him the overall prize at the BT Young Scientists and Technology exhibition in January.
By studying motion sensors on tennis players, he came up with a technique that can electronically distinguish 13 different strokes used by tennis players which can be adapted for use in motion assessment used by sports coaches to hone the perfect swing, as well as in physical and rehabilitation therapy.
Previous applications were were only able to distinguish classes of motion, such as forehand or backhand serves.
He was awarded €7,000 in prize money from a total prize pool of €51,500.
Last night, the New York-born aspiring computer science student said he was thrilled to be included among the top three winners.
"It's an amazing feeling."
He added that he was inspired by his personal love of the sport. "I have a passion for tennis and I chose to represent this (concept) through the game of tennis."
He added that his project had already aroused the interest of businesses involved in sports and rehabilitation medicine, prompting him to file two patents on his invention over the summer.
"I plan to continue working for the coming months and years," he told RTE radio.