MILL CREEK — Jackson High School senior Dhruvik Parikh, 17, has hit the ground running during his high school career. He’s already got some training at MIT under his belt. Soon, he’ll be speaking before Snohomish County for a local TEDx event.
Question: What is it like to be a student representative on the Everett School Board?
Answer: It’s actually a lot of fun. I get to see a new perspective on the school and education in general. As a student, you don’t get to see all the behind-the-scenes work … that ultimately end up with the students.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I’ll start from first period, I guess. So I have (University of Washington) English, and then (college-level Advanced Placement) macroeconomics. AP Spanish, AP statistics, AP biology and AP government.
A: I actually feel that my class schedule is lighter this year than in years past, just because the specific AP classes that I’m taking are ones with less daily work and are way more focused on projects. So I spend less time each day taking notes or working on worksheets. But yes, it keeps me busy.
Q: Do you have a favorite?
A: I really like chemistry. I took that in my sophomore year, AP chemistry. And I also do extracurricular scientific research. So I worked this last spring at the chemical engineering lab at the University of Washington, and I also spent this summer in Boston working in the chemical engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I’ve been trying to really explore my passions. I’m interested in renewable energy specifically, with a chemistry approach. So I’ve been working with a few different technologies and doing a few different research projects in my high school time.
Q: It sounds like you have a really clear path.
A: Energy is my main interest — renewable energy and how we can wean ourselves off fossil fuels. I’m pretty passionate about that. Right now I’m working on an energy storage technology … that can reduce the costs while also maintaining a high efficiency for these (redox flow) batteries.
… The largest installation of any redox flow battery anywhere in the world is right here in Snohomish County. I saw that early on in the news and that’s when I started working on this. I have not had a chance to see it. But I worked a little bit with one of the companies — it’s the Pacific Northwest National Lab down in the Tri-Cities. I talked to some of the scientists there to get some advice on my project specifically.
Q: You will be talking about your research projects at TEDxSnoIsleLibraries on Nov. 4. Have you talked to that big of a crowd before?
A: I have talked at research symposiums before, but these were only crowds of around 100 people. The TEDx event will have over 360 attendees listening in person, and others tuning into the livestream or watching the recording. This is definitely a new kind of experience for me, and I am very much looking forward to the challenge.
Q: So are you going to go to MIT?
A: I’m still applying right now. I am going to be applying early action to MIT and hopefully that will go well. I don’t have a set school, but I have spent a lot of time there. I’m also applying to UW, obviously. Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Carnegie Mellon University. And I’m also looking at Duke.
Q: What is it like, to be at this stage in life — finishing up high school and looking at all these amazing possibilities?
A: It’s really exciting. But at the same time it’s also kind of scary. All throughout high school I was thinking ahead about what I wanted to do in college and career. But it wasn’t really I guess real. … Now that I’m applying that’s become a reality for me.
Q: You participate in the Technology Student Association, an after-school club, and finished in the Top 10 for debate. Are you in any other clubs?
A: I’m the co-founder and co-president of our Math Honors Society, and I’m also the education coordinator for our Entrepreneurship Club. The summer of 2016 I went to an entrepreneurship camp — it also was at MIT — and they taught me the entrepreneurship curriculum that the Sloan School (of Management) at MIT teaches to its undergraduates. So after that summer I came back and started an Entrepreneurship Club here at Jackson with a couple of other students.
… Even though I’m also doing research, my research has always been with the goal of eventually commercializing something or making it a product. So I think the entrepreneurial mindset that I formed there (at MIT) has helped me wrap together my research so I have the goal in mind and think about how I’m going to get there.
Q: If you have spare time, what do you do for fun?
A: At the end of the day I’m still a high-schooler. I like to hang out with my friends. I’m also really interested in technology, so a couple years ago I built my own computer from scratch. And I also enjoy flying my drone and making aerial videos using that.
Q: Do you have anyone you look up to, who inspires you?
A: I guess one of my idols or role models would be Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla. And SpaceX. And a whole bunch of other things right now. He has a similar approach and mindset to me. He’s working with renewable energy and sustainability. He’s involved in research, but he also does manage a lot of business. That intersection is also what I’m really interested in.
Q: Your parents must be proud.
A: They did a good job raising us to follow our passions. We’re not forced to do any of this. We’re actually interested in it, and that’s why we do it.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432.