Student Success Story – Kelvin Zhang

Gleneagle Secondary student Kelvin Zhang is an incredible innovator with serious smarts. He loves using artificial intelligence to solve real-world problems. These days he’s focussing on the technology of self-driving cars.

Kelvin noticed a problem with self-driving cars, which have to be programmed to respond to every situation they face on the road. So what happens when they are faced with a situation for which they haven’t been programmed? The results aren’t pretty.

This got Kelvin thinking. What if the car didn’t have to be programmed for each driving scenario, but could learn how to respond, just like a person could? Most people would write this off as impossible. But Kelvin made it happen by using his knowledge of artificial intelligence and coding.

How? He used coding to create an algorithm that works like a human brain. This algorithm controls a virtual car, so that by a process similar to human evolution, it can go from knowing nothing about driving to being able to go along any path without crashing.

This amazing project earned Kelvin a trip to the Canada Wide Science Fair last year in Montreal, where he won a gold medal and $5,000 in awards. Kelvin describes this trip as “incredible beyond description,” and he was honoured to be able to meet some of the brightest minds from across Canada.

This project wasn’t Kelvin’s first foray into the world of artificial intelligence. In Grade 7, he created a robot that can mimic human upper-body movements from the other side of the world. In Grade 8 he coded an algorithm that could automatically identify if someone was being bullied by analyzing their Twitter feed. Both of those projects also went to the Canada Wide Science Fair.

When Kelvin gets an idea for a project, he puts all his free time and energy into it. He hopes to apply his dedication to one day earn a computer science degree. After that, his goal is to be an entrepreneur, opening a large-scale technology company.

Last summer, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Launch Camp, an entrepreneurship summer camp for high schoolers, where he gained valuable experience in entrepreneurship and founded a company with a team. Without a doubt, Kelvin will continue using his skills to make the world more safe and convenient well into the future.