Palo Alto High School Student Lea M Hadzic Joins Prestigious MIT Summer Institute

Palo Alto, CA: Palo Alto Senior High School student Lea M Hadzic accepted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI). Ms. Hadzic has successfully made it into the list of top 200 aspiring young engineers nationwide who will attend this highly-selective, world-class STEM program for the most talented high school engineering students. 

Students develop STEM skills through hands-on, project-based courses. BWSI courses engage students with cutting-edge engineering courses and projects involving satellite technologies, quantum computing, autonomous systems, cybersecurity, and natural language processing. MIT’s reputation attracts top high school students to this full scholarship program, with only rising seniors accepted from across the US.

“I am thrilled about this extraordinary opportunity to spend this summer working side-by-side with MIT professors and motivated students from across the U.S. My focus will be learning to apply machine learning and satellite remote sensing for climate disaster response. It is a perfect combination of my passions for computer science, AI and climate change research” Ms. Hadzic said.

This young, purpose-driven scientist discovered the MIT summer program through her love of computer science, engineering, and passion for climate change solutions. BWSI was a perfect fit for this talented Paly student, who benefits from previous studies of Product Design at Stanford, where she developed prototypes of intelligent IoT irrigation systems, and Entrepreneurship at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. “I learned to design products that focus on human needs, solve real problems, and are marketable,” she explains.

Talking about her background, she hails from Sweden and was a top 1% student nationwide. Lea moved to the U.S. roughly 18 months ago. Within this short period, she has already conducted research with Stanford and Univ. of Utah researchers and engaged in sustainability issues in her community.

With her exceptional educational background, everyone is hoping wonders from this talented girl. She has shown exemplary talent covering all the prerequisites of the MIT program in half the time than was required. “It was just so much fun,” she said. Lea received a crucial strong recommendation from Ms. Lanzot, her Paly computer science teacher. Ms. Hadzic praised Ms. Lanzot and the Paly teacher community for outstanding mentorship and inspirational STEM classes.  She said, “Ms. Lanzot is a mentor every girl in STEM should have.”

“All Paly students passionate about STEM should apply,” she says, noting the extraordinary extracurricular learning opportunity. “The program is outstanding and has already expanded my horizons and created new opportunities. Following the pre-requisite Python and remote sensing classes, I applied for two amazing paid internships and was accepted to both. With the academic preparation Paly provides, there are really no limits to the impactful science and engineering opportunities students like me can undertake,” Hadzic said.

This summer, in Husqvarna Group’s Innovation Labs, a global industry leader, Lea will be developing a product that applies remote sensing, computer vision, and deep learning techniques to massive data sets of satellite images in order to research urban heat flows. Extreme urban heat islands inflict dire health effects and drive up mortality rates, often disproportionately impacting already disadvantaged communities of color.

 Lea’s other summer internship will be with Ai Dash, a Silicon Valley start-up similarly applying satellite-driven AI products that help core industries such as energy, telecom, roads and railroads, smart cities, mining, etc., be more resilient, efficient, and sustainable.

With both these industry internships, Ms. Hadzic will be applying MIT technology education to real-life climate change challenges. “There are endless opportunities to make a difference. Climate change will define our era. Technology’s potential for paradigm-shifting solutions is alluring, but even more meaningful to me is improving lives in many communities.” 

Lea strongly believes climate change mitigation and economic growth are not opposing forces. “We don’t have to choose one over the other. Being in Silicon Valley, I am excited to see huge investments in climate tech supported by incredibly bright minds in Stanford and UC Berkeley, and both institutions’ have a new focus on sustainability. The U.S. must take the global lead and embrace the opportunity to create the next wave of technology-driven growth, enabling both the environment and the economy to thrive. I intend to lead climate technology innovation and shape a sustainable, equitable global community.”

About Ms. Hadzic: Ms. Hadzic is a talented junior year student at Palo Alto Senior High School. Ms. Hadzic moved from Sweden 18 months ago and was a top 1% student nationwide in Sweden. She has already engaged in research in the U.S with Stanford and Univ. of Utah researchers on developing critical climate change science literacy of young people. “Education fosters next-generation voters; we need young people to demand action on climate change,” Ms. Hadzic says. Ms. Hadzic has also conducted independent research on how climate science denial impacts disaster preparedness across the U.S. As President of the Paly ECO club, she developed a district-wide Sustainability Plan currently being scaled for adoption by school districts across the U.S.

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