Lehigh Valley

Moravian Academy student impresses judges at Intel science fair

MACUNGIE, Pa. - What were you doing in 9th grade?

Moravian Academy freshman Neil Deshmukh is busy building a better world.

"I used to stay up really late, and just work on this, and my parents, my parents get really mad about that," Neil says, smiling as he glances over at his mom and dad nearby.

Of course, it's hard stay mad at someone, who has a heart built for helping.

"My grandparents are one reason why I developed this," Neil says, as he begins his story.

His grandparents are farmers in India. He's visited them several times before, and is headed back to see them this summer.

Neil wanted to give them, and others, a way to be able to know early what was wrong with crops.

So, he created an app. You point the camera at a spotted leaf, and instantly, know what to do to correct it.

But then Neil realized this app that could save livelihoods, could also save lives. ("Currently it's achieving around an 87% accuracy rate," he mentions.) It recognizes skin conditions, too, like a mole on your arm that could be melanoma.

"And that could prevent a lot of people from getting serious diseases," he adds.

That's what a judge at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles thought last month.

Neil says the judge had a rash on his arm, and when he used the app to find out what he had (and learned he should probably go to the doctor)...well, that'll get you noticed in the technology world.

Neil was awarded 2nd place in his category, and is very pleased that he even had a meteor named after him!

Neil's parents, Nitin and Lini, tell us of course they admire his dedication, but they're even bigger fans of his heart.

"I have a really good life. I live in this house, I have a nice family and the thing is, not all people have that," Neil says.

"If I can help people, that's my main goal, because I've been to India and I've seen how many of these people…they don't have the same things we have. They have to suffer through a lot sometimes," he says, adding, "If I can help people diagnose themselves and their crops, I can help rid people of their burden."

"We want him to be happy. Whatever thing he puts his mind to, he should just go for that," Nitin says.

Lini adds, "And of course, we want him to be a good human being, and good to people.

Maybe there's not exactly an app for that.

But there is a young man with the mind to make them, and the heart to apply them, and that's a formula that cannot fail.

Neil's app should be available soon for Apple devices.

He's headed to an MIT entrepreneurship this summer, where he'll learn how to build a company.

He hopes to one day run a company that works half as a non-profit to provide his technology in developing areas, and half for profit, to provide skin-detection for medical purposes.

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