Even before President Joe Biden unveiled his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, Cole Chmielewski had set his sights on improving the nation’s transportation system.
“The public transportation infrastructure crisis in the United States is extremely important, therefore, finding a sustainable solution for short, medium and long-distance travel is something I would like to achieve,” Chmielewski listed as a career goal in his entry to the Reading Eagle Berks’ Best competition.
Chmielewski, 18, a graduating senior at Wilson High School, has been named winner of the 2021 Berks’ Best Computer Science Award.
“Computer science has been extremely influential in my life, especially in the fields of computer-machine interaction and robotics,” he said. “In the future, I see computer science as a tool to help influence more efficient design and optimize the creation of new machines and technologies.”
At the Governor’s STEM competition, for example, Chmielewski’s team designed a device that calculates the amount of CO2 generated had the person used a car instead of a bicycle.
“We opened people’s eyes to the environmental impact of using a car,” he said.
Noting some 28.2% of U.S. carbon emissions comes from the transportation sector, Chmielewski sees electric and autonomous vehicles as alternatives to gas-powered cars and trucks.
The son of Steven and Angela Chmielewski of Sinking Spring, he will study mechanical engineering, robotics and computer science at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind. Eventually, he plans to do post-graduate work in robotics and renewable systems.
Beth Levan, a gifted support teacher at Wilson, said Chmielewski is exceptionally motivated to work hard and succeed.
“I’ve met very few students like Cole in my 22 years of teaching,” she said in a recommendation letter. “He is hungry to learn and create, and he makes such work look easy.”
Chmielewski has an abiding faith in the ability of technology to solve problems like climate change, which he considers the biggest threat to long-term survival of the planet.
“There is a momentous opportunity to have an impact on both the environment and people’s daily lives,” he said. “My life goal is to solve these crises using robotics and renewable systems.”