Nicholas Oddo, a sophomore at Franklin Academy, was only a sixth-grader when he first started thinking about how to create a more efficient car after a science class lesson on internal combustion engines.
It’s a question that led him to years of research on his own. His dedication recently earned him a published patent application.
Now his idea for increasing the oxygen content of the air that flows into an engine using a filtration system is under review at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. If it proves original and useful, it could earn him a patent of his own.
Oddo, 14, is optimistic that it will. He’s spent months poring over the existing scientific literature to make sure his idea is unique. But even if it isn’t, he’s glad he’s spent so many years dedicated to searching for a creative solution.
“I really see this a learning experience outside of the classroom. It may be a flop, it may be successful, but I learned a lot,” he said.
After Oddo’s initial lesson on engines during a class at Thales Academy, he asked his teacher for more information. He soon found himself flipping through a textbook on engineering fundamentals, where he came across a discussion of how the use of pure oxygen could theoretically create a more efficient engine – but it was practically impossible.
That didn’t stop Oddo.
He started thinking about ways to filter out the other gases in the air that go into a standard engine, starting down the path that eventually led to his filter design.
Oddo said that his work is guided in part by wanting cars to be more efficient so that they have a less detrimental effect on the environment. A more efficient engine means less gasoline needs to be used.
“I feel like we only have one Earth… what we use we should use more efficiently,” he said.
Timothy Hall, the principal at Franklin Academy, said he’s known Oddo was a top-notch math and science student. But watching Oddo go through the research and patent application process has been impressive not just for the smarts it shows.
“The resilience and motivation that are attached to this are incredible,” he said.
Oddo said he’ll take the lessons he’s learned about dedication along with him, in whatever project he decides to pursue next.
“The only way you can fail is by not doing something. So I’m going to go for it,” he said.