STEVEN Udotong, a 16-year old African American is determined to be the first black student to build a nuclear reactor.
Last year Udotong whose family is originally from Nigeria was accepted into the Yale Young Global Scholar Program, which facilitated his entry to the engineering workshop at the Singapore campus.
Steven says his quest to build a nuclear fusor, an invention he hopes will help inspire a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly future mankind, was inspired by a topic on nuclear energy during a chemistry class discussion in 2016.
“I decided to do more research and I soon learned that I could actually make a nuclear fusor,” Steven says. “That sparked my interest. I want people to know that there are alternate methods for obtaining power and energy. I want to examine more clean energy products and stop fearing the word ‘nuclear.’ Nuclear energy is a lot safer than people think.”
Furthermore, he said: “When I started this project, I had no clue what to do, so I asked my high school physics teacher for advice. He pointed me in the right direction, telling me what kind of vacuum pump I’d need and where I could buy a good one fairly cheaply. From there, I was off.”
The GoFundMe page which Steven created to raise $1,500 for the material for his project, has already exceeded that amount in just one month.
Commenting on the probability of becoming the first black student to build a nuclear reactor, Steven said: “I’m motivated knowing I’m proof that there are many ways for minorities to pursue success. Sports and music are not the only avenues for us. There’s a need for us to participate in academia, business, art, law, medicine, and yes, nuclear energy. I hope this project will become an example of academic excellence as a vehicle of accomplishment for Black students.”
Steven says once his invention is complete he plans to enter it in science fairs and competition for a chance to pursue scholarship opportunities. His ultimate goal is to start a serious international quest for action towards adopting alternative energy sources.
Paying tribute to his parents for encouraging him and his four brothers to take their education seriously Steven said: “When we were kids, Mom and Dad would force us to complete workbooks to strengthen our minds in mathematics and literature. Our whole family motivates me. It’s inspiring to have older brothers and cousins who are studying engineering and racking up jobs and internships everywhere from Pinterest and Facebook to McKinsey and Boeing. I have constant reminders to continue pushing myself. The bar is very high!”