Mass. teen inventor earns trip to the White House
BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) — Born with a knack for creating, Adrian Niles, 18, grew from tinkering with Legos when he was 4 to building from scratch his own version of the Segway, a motor-powered two-wheel scooter, he said.
His invention has garnered numerous awards and recognition from Mayor Bill Carpenter and Brockton City Council to the Statehouse.
Now, Niles’ success will take him to the White House in Washington, D.C., where he will display his creation to his most notable audience member yet — President Barack Obama.
Niles will join other inventors at the Maker Faire, an event that allows amateur inventors like Niles to showcase their creations.
While lawmakers and schools nationwide strive to make science and technology studies more appealing to American students, young innovators like Niles represent the next generation of scientists and engineers who can usher in the next era of American innovation, said Michael Curry, president of the NAACP’s Boston branch, in which Niles is a student member.
“When I say that this kid is beyond his years, it’s almost scary when you meet kids like that,” Curry said. “They’re destined to be great at whatever they do.”
Niles’ modified Segway, which he calls the “Self-Balancing People Mover,” catapulted the recent high school graduate to science-fair stardom.
Last month alone, his project — which includes safety features designed to help the elderly and disabled move around more safely — helped win him a $7,500 Mathworks award and first place at a state science fair, he said. He also won the 2014 American Society of Safety Engineers Award.
Niles’ gold medal win in this year’s regional leg of the Afro-Academic Cultural Technological Scientific Olympics, or ACT-SO, earned him a spot in the national race, Curry said.
Efforts are underway to raise money to send him to the next level of competition in Las Vegas this summer, he said.
Those interested in donating can do so by mail at Boston NAACP ACT-SO Program, 330 Martin Luther King Blvd. Roxbury, MA 02119.
A recent graduate of Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, Niles was an honor roll student throughout his entire four years.
As a freshman, his first invention was a beverage coaster that lit up when an item was placed on top of it, he said.
He won first place and $500 for that invention.
With a desire to push himself further, he moved on to the Segway, the invention of which, he said, he is most proud.
“Working on this project really shaped what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he said.
He will attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where he will enter as an undeclared engineering student. His goal is to create the world’s fastest electric-powered car, he said.
As his mentor, and self-proclaimed “science-fair mom,” Pat Monteith said she saw the promise in him.
“He has a unique mind where he believes that anything is possible and he’s going to try it,” she said. “If he fails in doing something one way, he’ll try a different way.”
“I am feeling really excited,” Niles said about his trip to the nation’s capital. “I’m proud of myself.”