Aaron Wang, a senior at Skyline High School and research assistant in the Utah NeuroRobotics Lab, has been awarded the General Sterling Scholarship, the top award for high school students in Utah. Wang was selected from a pool of thousands of applicants for his outstanding academic achievements and involvement in university level research.

Wang’s passion for electrical and computer engineering led him to the annual Price College of Engineering Summer Research Internship Programs during the summer of 2022, where he was placed into the Utah NeuroRobotics lab, working with ECE Assistant Professor and lab director Jacob George. After participating in the summer program, Wang decided to take on a paid research assistant position in the lab, where he is currently the youngest research assistant working alongside George and other ECE undergraduate and graduate students.

“[Aaron] has got a lot of initiative, drive and curiosity, which are some of the three characteristics that really make a great scientist and a great engineer — someone who can identify the problems worth solving and know how to solve those,” George told the Deseret News.

As a paid research assistant, Wang’s work has been mainly focused on the creation of a wristband that will enable people with neuromuscular disabilities to control smart devices with hand gestures. Aaron also recently submitted a first-author conference proceeding paper describing his work — a rare achievement for a high school student.

Each year, the Sterling Scholar Program recognizes Utah high school students who have demonstrated exceptional academic achievement, leadership skills, and community involvement. Within each region of the state, candidates apply for Scholar Awards in fourteen categories; the General Sterling Scholarship is then selected from the winners of those categories.

Wang received the Scholar Award in the computer science category on his road to the General Sterling Scholarship. Each prize comes with a $2,500 award from Deseret News and KSL.

ECE Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant Connor Olsen, who has been mentoring Wang for the past year in the NeuroRobotics Lab, praised his mentee’s impressive achievements and intellect.

“I can’t wait to follow Aaron’s career and see where he goes,” says Olsen. “His academic prowess at such a young age is incredibly impressive and I have no doubt he will excel in his future endeavors.”

While Wang has not committed to a college yet, he notes that his work in the Utah NeuroRobotics Lab has been extremely valuable in helping him decide his desired career path.

“Working in the NeuroRobotics lab has really shown me how much I enjoy working with robotics,” says Wang. “I always knew I had an interest in AI and machine learning and those kinds of topics, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with that. Now I know that in the future I want to continue using my skills in the rehabilitative and assistive robotics field.”

“I am so grateful to Jacob George, Connor and Abby, my mentors, and everyone in the Neurorobotics Lab,” says Wang. “[The lab] is a great environment and a great place to work, and I could not have done all of this without the guidance and mentorship of each of them.”

Learn more about Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty research topics and discover ways to get involved in undergraduate research.