Photo courtesy of Sharon Lin
Corona high school student Sharon Lin was named one of the "Young Innovators to Watch" by CE Week.

Corona resident Sharon Lin is only 18, but the Stuyvesant High School student has accomplished more in her short life than most.

On July 12, Lin will be one of thirteen students from New York City to be awarded the “Young Innovators to Watch” award by CE Week, New York’s largest technology show. This is the third year that the competition has been hosted and a panel of industry-expert judges chose to honor five “products of tomorrow” created by middle school, high school and college students under the age of 20.

Lin’s project, titled “White Water,” is an app that identifies bacteria and abiotic particles in water based on a photo sample. She became interested in water quality after participating in the Science Olympiad in middle school, where she learned about a number of tests that can identify water quality.

“I learned there were a number of diseases that existed that were not too difficult to identity but often difficult to do so in areas that were impoverished because of a lack of resources,” she said.

Lin added that she wanted to create something that people without access to “expensive labs or extensive equipment or chemicals needed to detect diseases” can use. To create the app, she built a database of particle photos that could be compared to the photos that the user takes.

The app scans the photos of water for visual parameters such as the size or number of particles and compares them to existing photos already in the database. The app is not on the market because Lin could not get enough access to a “robust” number of particles to detect the variety of microbial and abiotic particles responsible for water-borne illnesses, but she hopes to one day make it available to communities that need it the most.

In a ceremony at the Metropolitan Pavilion, Lin will receive a $1,000 scholarship and prizes B&H Photo, Monster and WowWee Toys.

This is the second time Lin has won an award in the competition and was surprised to learn that the judges, which include executives at Cornell Tech, Columbia Business School and Children’s Technology Review, chose her project again.

“It’s definitely a huge honor,” she said. “I was definitely very surprised when I heard the announcement. I didn’t think they would choose me again to be recognized for this achievement and I realize the work I’m doing can make an impact on other people and [the win] motivates me to continue my research and solve real-world problems.”

Her interest in computer science and technology started in elementary school when she first started using a computer.

“It almost seemed magical at the time,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure how the different parts sort of connect together.”

Though she grew up in New Jersey, Lin and her family moved to Corona when she was 13 and she credits her experience here to her growing interest in working on “social good projects.”

“Growing up in Queens exposed me to a lot more underprivileged communities and that definitely made me more interested in working on social good projects that could actually influence my community [and] allowed me to be more service-minded with my work,” she said.

Lin’s curiosity and desire to use her talents to benefit others has paid off, and her resume is peppered with awards like “White House Champion of Change for Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls” and “Crain’s 20 under 20.” Lin also writes poetry and in 2016, she was chosen as NYC’s Youth Poet Laureate.

She will attend MIT to major in electrical engineering and computer science and hopes to work on research and software development projects like “White Water” in the future.

But before she goes back to school, Lin will act as a teaching assistant for an introduction to computer science course at Columbia University; work on her chap book, which is set to be published in December; and conduct quantum computing research for the University of Waterloo in Canada.

“They’re definitely proud of me, my parents,” she said. “Neither of them work in computer science, so they were definitely surprised when I told them I wanted to pursue this field. “They’re definitely supportive and I appreciate everything they do for me.”


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