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Sporting ability helps high-flying student land a place at a prestigious university

Saltus student Erik Pearson dreams of engineering a better world.

The 17-year-old, who's just been accepted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), explained: “I'm interested in improving what's already been made.

“Motors interest me; I'm learning some car engineering right now and developing some ideas. I like the idea of improving vehicles to make them more effective.”

Designing more efficient batteries is another possibility, he said it was the topic of an essay to get into MIT, where he intends to study mechanical engineering.

Erik scored a perfect 800 in the SAT exam for maths, plus a 790 for chemistry in the SAT2 at the start of this school year but he credits his sports record for catching the university's attention.

“Every one of their applicants has the same academic qualifications as me. Sports, I think, helped get me in. I've been in contact with the rowing coach there and they want me to do the team. I was listed as one of the top ten recruits for rowing. Again, I'm going to be among the big kids in a place like MIT, so I probably won't be one of the powerhouse rowers.”

The Watlington House Captain is also on the Saltus varsity basketball and volleyball teams, and captains the under-18 National Basketball Team although, Erik added, “I think my time with basketball has finished since I tore my Achilles tendon. Rowing, you're not so easily injured.”

But Erik's real fascination is with machinery. “What I really hope to do is be like the guys on that Discovery Channel show Howe and Howe Tech,” he said. The show features two brothers who design and build vehicles with a team of engineers.

Other interests are ways of incorporating solar panels onto Bermudian-style roofs, and exporting the Island's rainwater-catching concept. “One thing that makes me very happy about MIT is that for one semester you're able to leave and go to a different country,” he said.

“I was thinking of how our system of capturing rainwater could be incorporated elsewhere. The complexity is in maintaining it. The other consideration is how much rainfall you get. It's a system that would work very well in the Amazon rainforest, but everywhere in the world there's a serious need for fresh water.”

The Corporation of Hamilton invited him to share ideas last summer with assistant city engineer Allan Lee, looking at plans for improving the city.

“Mr Lee knew I was interested in engineering, so I got to go over the maps with him,” Erik said. “It was just good experience, something to get the mind working. I was hoping to get some work with Belco this summer too, but unfortunately I'll need college experience first.”

At MIT, the Pembroke resident will study maths as well as engineering. He's unsure yet if he'll pursue a doctorate, and is also contemplating actuarial studies: his father Kevin works for local insurers Assured Guarantee (Erik's mother is the local artist Susan Pearson).

“I'd like to work eventually in Bermuda. I'm American as well as Bermudian, so I can work in the States for a while first. There's a lot going on in the US with fields that I'd love to get involved in like robotics,” he said.

Another perk of studying at MIT: it's close to Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“My sister Shelley is there studying psychology and economics,” Erik said. “She'll be 20 minutes away by bike ride.”

Useful web link: www.mit.edu

Achiever: Erik Pearson has been accepted as a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he aims to pursue his interest in engineering.

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Published March 26, 2011 at 9:21 am (Updated March 26, 2011 at 9:20 am)

Sporting ability helps high-flying student land a place at a prestigious university

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