Did you know air pollution continues to be a leading cause of severe health problems in many parts of the world? After visiting smoggy Beijing, a finalist from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair1 (Intel ISEF) came up with a cool solution to reduce harmful emissions in the traffic-clogged streets.
When Ben Gulak visited Beijing as a teen, he was enthralled by sites such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, but he was also troubled by the thick smog that blanketed the area, partly due to thousands of vehicles spewing exhaust in the traffic-clogged streets. So when Gulak returned to Canada to design a project for his high school science fair, he set out to create a solution for the problem. His idea: create a small, eco-friendly vehicle that could easily maneuver through crowded cities.
Within a few months, Gulak—along with his Team Canada peers—presented the prototype of his Uno, an electric unicycle, at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where the team was awarded the Second Place Grand Award and catapulted to fame.
In 2008, Popular Science magazine selected the Uno as one of the top 10 inventions of the year and featured the bike on its cover. Gulak, too, was thrust into the media spotlight as the young inventor and entrepreneur who convinced a panel of venture capitalists to invest USD 1.25 million in his start-up company, BPG Werks.
There, Gulak turned his Uno into the world’s first working transformer, designing the bike to operate as a unicycle at slow speeds and morph into a full-scale, double-wheeled motorcycle for high-speed travel.
Though the Uno hit a roadblock before mass production, it did not slow the young entrepreneur down.
His next project was another blended vehicle, this time for the extreme sports market. Gulak’s DTV Shredder is a cross between a skateboard and a tank, allowing riders to conquer all terrains in all seasons. Gulak just oversaw the first mass production run of the DTV Shredder and has orders for several thousand already. Additionally, the vehicle has applications in the search-and-rescue and military markets.
Collaborating with governments, educators, and NGOs to sponsor entrepreneurial competitions and train innovators to build successful businesses.
A program of Society for Science and the Public, Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition with over USD 4 million in awards.