By Dea Suluashvili.
Vakhtang Kontridze is a 20 years old scientist and inventor from Georgia, currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree at San Diego State University in Tbilisi, majoring in Computer Engineering. Since childhood, he found himself extremely interested in science and engineering and has picked up hobbies related to various fields of science. The young scientist connected many aspects of his life to it—profession topics to research and read, or just in general, something to daydream about. Slowly, passion turned into ideas he could bring to life for fun. Hobby activities turned into high school projects, and later on, they became essential in defining his aspirations in life. Passion and natural aptitude, coupled with the visions and promises of the 21st century, was why he decided to connect his future with technology. He has already worked on various projects with his partner, some of which have gained local and global recognition.
One particular project he is very proud of is the Portable Deployable Framework for Mars Base. When Elon Musk, founder and chairman of SpaceX, announced a plan to populate Mars in near decades, Vakhtang got extremely excited about the new frontier of technology. He decided to work on a project that would fit the theme of populating Mars. Vakhtang and his partner created a lightweight deployable framework that can be folded and stored in a space rocket during transportation, and used on Mars as a living environment or a storage room. Key highlights of the project include its compact form and lightweight, ability to transform, highly customizable design, and considerable living space with minimal building materials. While the project doesn’t aim for providing a permanent residency, it attempts to create a multi-use easy-to-deploy field structure, that can be installed and transported any time.
Vakhtang strongly believes science has infinite potential to have positive impacts on the global community. He realizes that science and technology are essential to maintain society, as it is exactly what shaped us as humans in the first place. Purpose of science in our social lives is providing solutions for pre-existing problems or suggesting improvements”, mentions Vakhtang during the interview. “Science has made our life easier, better, and more efficient, leaving us more time to enjoy more and better things, for much longer. Since our birth as species, securing our most basic animal needs, adoption of technology has left humans with more time to develop arts and philosophy, and give us means of starting a civilization. These effects continue even today. Science has drastically transformed human life in the last 100 years and has taken it to a scale never dreamed of before. And there doesn’t seem to be a limit to our imagination. For some of us, science brings meaning to our lives, and to others, it offers opportunities to seek meaning somewhere else.”
Vakhtang himself uses his scientific knowledge and expertise to make the world a better place. At the age of 20, he has already worked on projects related to renewable energy and developed some ideas that attempt to increase the efficiency of solar cells, for mass-production in solar plants, or even at households. He strongly believes that renewable energy holds the future of our planet and puts all of his effort to finalize some projects that will contribute to a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable future of the environment. Currently, he is an active member of the community that strives to bring significant technological changes to Georgia. The ultimate goal of the community is to make use of vast energy resources that the country has to offer and make Georgia technologically independent.
Despite having clear goals and ideas, Vakhtang faces several obstacles that limit him from achieving an even bigger impact. The most immediate problem in Georgia is the lack of materials that one might want to use in a project. That could not stop Vakhtang but rather forced him to make materials himself, alter the design and find substitutes, or purchase them in foreign countries and ship them to Georgia. The second issue tying back with the first one is the lack of laboratories and facilities for developing ideas. During high school days, his partner and he had to go daily to different universities to have access to lab equipment. Lastly, a much more fundamental problem is the lack of support the scientist can receive. “If you are a high school student, you can participate in local competitions in the hope of winning a research grant, but other than that, financing is a major issue,'' said Vakhtang.
Vakhtang is an example of a millennial with a strong intention to change the world. The motivation is so strong that despite having necessary resources or external help, he has to make everything from scratch and achieve unimaginable success with his bare hands. The solution to all of these lies in paying more attention to youth, technology, or in the direction of the 21st-century world in general. We need to create a healthy environment to help curious individuals make their ideas come true. Vakhtang advises young individuals not to give up their dreams and that hard work always pays off. “There are vast educational resources and opportunities to gain knowledge and familiarize yourself with the industry,” he mentions. He believes in trying and testing ideas and that failure is just an illusional fare. Vakhtang’s example proves to the world that it is not resources available on hand that define your success but rather the strong passion to make an impact. Then, you can achieve amazing things and change mother earth and maybe other planets as well.