Growing up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Alice Zhao’s foremost passion has been engineering. Throughout her life, she has enjoyed tinkering with things to see what they do and how they do it. As early as the second grade, Alice entered the “Invent America” competition, which required her to invent an entirely new product or improve on an existing one. Alice’s “EZ Disc Cleaner,“ which used a manual crank to clean smudges off CDs or DVDs, earned her third place at the national level.
But this was just the beginning of the development of her tinkering talents. As a high school student, Alice has conducted research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her project, part of a larger research project conducted by the Mechanical Engineering Department, focused on obtaining high temperature and high pressure gas conditions to transport nanoparticles for coating purposes. She discovered a novel heating approach using magnetic induction, which she then applied to create a new portable device. Alice’s invention has industrial applications for more efficiently protecting materials from corrosion.
As a result of Alice’s discovery, a Taiwanese aeronautical conference accepted a paper that she co-authored on the subject last year. Moreover, she was honored as a 2010 Intel Science Talent Search Finalist and was elected by the other finalists to win the Glenn T. Seaborg Award for scientific communication. In her speech at the awards ceremony, she stressed that “you can get involved in science and take the initiative and use your passion to forge your opportunities, no matter where you come from.“
Alice’s interests are not confined to the science classroom and research laboratory, however. She has been on the high school tennis team for four years, earning three varsity letters. She has also been a class officer all four years and will give her school’s graduation speech as the Senior Class President. She attributes her ease with speaking to the debate and forensics teams. She is a captain of both teams, and earned the title of Student Congress State Champion as a sophomore. In forensics, she has qualified for the Catholic Forensics League National Tournament and the National Forensics League Tournament six times. Her speaking skills have also come in handy in her membership in the Future Business Leaders of America.
Alice tutors students in math and plays the piano for fun. She is still uncertain where she will be attending college next year, but she envisions combining her love of engineering with her passion for communication to become a biomedical researcher or a patent lawyer.