By Jon Cronin
A Livingston High School student won third place in an international clean technology competition and was honored by the mayor this summer.
Steven Rosenstark, 18, has had an incredible summer. Starting with his graduation from high school to winning third place at the international Spellman HV Clean Tech Competition where he was chosen from 500 teams of students from over 40 countries and ending with a citation from the mayor.
“The day I won was chaotic to say the least,” Rosenstark said.
On July 17, he woke up early and left a summer music program at The Mason Gross School of The Arts at Rutgers University, to go to the competition at the historic Great Hall of the Cooper Union in Manhattan.
Rosenstark spent the day admiring and talking with his competitor and then presenting his work to the judges.
After seeing presentations from all 20 finalists had been made, the judges made their decision and the top three were called.
“I was the first person called to the stage during the awards ceremony, which was a little bit jarring and nerve-racking, but I got through it.”
His family was there but his father was with him throughout the competition. “It felt a bit surreal receiving the award,” Rosenstark noted.
It was a culmination of three years of work. Rosenstark spent hours in the lab during an internship at the New Jersey Institute of Technology just observing how his machine was working. He recalled, “It was akin to watching paint dry.”
After the ceremony, as he and his dad carried equipment back to the car. It was then that Rosenstark realized it was all over. Tomorrow he would be going back to the music program, to a different world where no one knew this had even occurred.
“I will remember that day forever nonetheless,” he said.
For Rosenstark, it all started at the end of his freshman year when he applied for the three-year science research program.
“I explored many different fields before settling on water purification,” Rosenstark said.
He found it fascinating as water is the seed of all life and believes, “its accessibility and consumption should continue to be explored at a high level for as long as technology continues to progress.”
He added, “I’ve always been interested in science and technology, particularly with applications of electricity. Electricity is so abstract in the ways it behaves and what it can do, I like to say that it’s the closest thing humanity will ever get to “magic”.
Rosenstark explained that his project applied an electric current to water in order to break down organic components. His system eliminated organic dye-pollutants, then used a membrane that conducts electricity in order to run a current through the water.
A couple of weeks after the competition, Rosenstark’s parents were phoned by the Livingston Town Council. They were told that the mayor and the council would like to give him a Citation of Honor on July 27 for his accomplishment at the competition.
“The council members were very impressed by my achievement, and I hope that this sort of support continues to permeate the Livingston Public Schools long after I am gone,” Rosenstark said.
This fall, Rosenstark began his first semester at Rutgers University. Like many freshmen, he doesn’t know what he wants to major in yet, but he is considering economics. One thing he knows for sure, it will not be science. After three years of hard science research, “I couldn’t really see myself pursuing them for the rest of my life,” he said.
Still he doesn’t regret a moment of what he did, “I encourage anyone seeking to expand their horizons to consider becoming involved in research, at any level and in any field.”