from malaysia to texas
My name is Karan Jerath. I am a fourth year at The University of Texas at Austin studying engineering. I was born in India, but moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when I was young to attend the International School of Kuala Lumpur. In 2008, my family and I moved to Friendswood, Texas where I became heavily involved with the school’s Science Fair program. My engagement with this program is where I first developed an interest in engineering and sustainability issues.
Science fairs are a platform which allowed me to continue broadening my perspective and challenging myself to solve problems with no definite solutions. They empowered me to both serve my local community and protect the environment on an international scale. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill was a natural disaster that happened in my own backyard. It was the first time that I was exposed to the true nature of devastating environmental damage, and this made a lasting impact on me and my work as a scientist. Inspired by the damaging effects of this spill, I made it my goal to invent a game-changing solution in hopes of saving lives and preserving our planet.
My now patented invention is a novel subsea wellhead capping device that separates oil and gas phases into homogenous mixtures at the source of a spill. This allows the phases to be recycled immediately. The idea is to have an effective, temporary solution in the case of an unforeseen subsea oil spill.
Promoting STEM education is another one of my passions. I served as a keynote speaker for the ExxonMobil Texas State Science and Engineering Fair where I spoke to thousands of future young scientists in hopes of inspiring them to do what I did — take action, starting now. I also spoke to the incoming class of students at The University of Texas at Austin about the importance of entrepreneurship, STEM, and how they too can change the world. Roles such as these allow me to give back to my community all while promoting environmental sustainability, entrepreneurship, and STEM education. I am a huge advocate for making sure that this generation, as well as the next, will do their part to make the world a better place. I want to make sure that nobody feels discouraged to make a change, to create an impact, no matter how small or young they might feel compared to the rest of the world.
I have also participated in programs such as the HIVE Global Leaders Program at Harvard, and the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. Both of these programs have allowed me to continuously diversify my experiences as a growing individual, a passionate researcher, and a contributor to society.
forbes 30 under 30
Two of my greatest accomplishments were being named the youngest honoree on the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Energy list, and receiving the 2015 Intel Foundation Young Scientist Grand Award. I received this award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair where my invention was first showcased. I won first place at the International Sustainable World Project Olympiad and have received awards from the Kingdom of Brunei, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. I am grateful for and humbled by these honors. However, I am most thankful for receiving these recognitions because it is through each of them that my belief that young people can make a difference is strengthened. I count these accolades as proof that nothing is impossible where there is determination, passion and purpose. Through my interest in science and engineering, I realized that if you want to help change the world, it doesn’t matter how old you are, where you’re from, or how much you know. It’s my goal to empower others to be interested in science and math, to want to make a difference by discovering new things, and most importantly, to give their time and talents to a cause they care deeply about. I strive to uphold and share this mantra through everything I do. As long as you allow your passion and vision to become a reality, the world will sit up and notice it.
Currently, I serve as one of the United Nations Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through this role I have been advocating for the 17 SDGs — goals set and adopted by UN countries to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. This role has given me the opportunity travel the world and speak at various youth and sustainability focused conferences. At these conferences, I have met and interacted with young people, learned about the problems their respective countries and facing and how they themselves are working towards solving these problems.
As I prepare to graduate from The University of Texas next spring, I am often asked, what’s next? One of the most difficult parts of my journey as a young entrepreneur, and college student in general, is that there is always some uncertainty about what is to come. However, I have found that in simply living life day by day, and embracing every opportunity that comes to me, I feel optimistic and excited about whatever the future might hold.