White House Science Fair Features Project by Ethiopian-Born Student Felege Gebru


Addis Ababa, 31 May 2014 – President Barack Obama hosted the 2014 White House Science Fair last Tuesday, May 27th highlighting some of “America’s most innovative students” and featuring a variety of projects, including a pedestrian alert system designed for use in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia invented by Ethiopian-born Felege Gebru, 18, and Karen Fan, 17 (both representing Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts).

The White House Blog Post by David Hudson stated: “Noting the sobering statistic that Ethiopia has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths by vehicle in the world, Felege Gebru and Karen Fan designed a pedestrian alert system for use in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that alerts drivers to crossing pedestrians and helps pedestrians safely cross congested roads. The invention, designed to be powered by solar energy, uses a dual-sensor method to calculate the arrival time of oncoming vehicles and indicate safer crossing times to pedestrians. Felege and Karen are leaders of the Newton North High School “InvenTeam” — which works on prototype solutions to be showcased each June at the Lemelson-MIT Program’s EurekaFest event.” Felege is currently an undergraduate majoring in Computer Science & Visual Arts at Brown University.

“An invitation to the White House Science Fair is an incredible honor for these students,” Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s invention education officer, who oversees the national InvenTeam initiative, told MIT News. “Katelyn, Olivia, Felege, and Karen exemplify the qualities we look for in our InvenTeams because of their passion for invention and devotion to inspiring other youth. These students have successfully blended their minds-on knowledge with their hands-on skills, and show what is possible when rigorous academics are blended with relevant career and technical education.”

The MIT News report also notes that “Gebru shared his firsthand knowledge of the dangers that pedestrians encounter in his home country of Ethiopia, and the InvenTeam has partnered with a sister school in Ethiopia to inform its understanding of the problem and guide the design.”

We congratulate Felege Gebru and Karen Fan on their accomplishments!