Rochester Student Wins National Award, Meets President Obama

Posted at: 10/07/2013 6:19 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- When it comes to science technology engineering and math one Rochester middle school student is at the top of his game. Most recently he was one of thirty to win a place at the Broadcom MASTERS national STEM competition. Even the president wanted to meet this bright and eager science whiz.

You could say Friedell Middle School 8th grader Austin McCoy is an excellent problem solver.

"I like that no one's solved it before, so it's a new opportunity and it poses a new challenge," said Austin McCoy.

His latest problem to solve came to him from his Mayo Clinic mentor.

"Dengue fever is a leading public health problem and the main problem is that they cannot amplify the DNA, so this is what I tried to counter that problem and make a low cost solution that can amplify the DNA," said Austin McCoy.

The machine that Austin created to solve that issue won him first place in technology at the Broadcom MASTERS.

"Austin has always loved science, for as long as I can remember," said Kim McCoy.

Austin's parents Kim and Bart McCoy know all the hard work Austin put towards the project. They say the community has also played a large part in his success.

"I think it speaks a lot of the community commitment to STEM education, his love for it was all built on these STEM activities that he's done before," said Bart McCoy.

A highlight of the week long competition in D.C., the top finishers got to meet President Obama.

"That was really exciting and fun, he was very excited to meet us and it kind of showed us how STEM is extremely important," said Austin McCoy.

"The funny thing was it was the day before the shutdown and Obama had a busy day, and I they thought he may not be able to meet with him, I think he just wanted a break from it all," said Bart McCoy.

But it's not the success that has the McCoy’s so proud, it's the nature of Austin's work.

"You can't measure success my awards or whether you've met the president, but it's really the impact you can have on the entire world, it's really cool that he's working to help others," said Kim McCoy.

The judges told Austin that his machine could easily be used and possible save lives.  He hopes to someday do just that by going into the medical field to continue his love for solving problems.

"It means to me that you can achieve a lot if you work hard at it," said Austin McCoy.

The school will also benefit from Austin's win. They will be awarded $1,000 dollars for their part in educating Austin. For his first place win Austin receives an iPad, and a $3,000 scholarship to attend a STEM related camp of his choice.