Torisha Dozier | Staff Writer
N.C. State Freshman Carl L. Smith Jr. will soon add published author to his long list of achievements. Smith, 18, learned Monday that an article he co-authored at the age of 16 has been accepted for publication in Optics Letters, a semi-monthly scientific scholarly journal.
In the summer of 2010, Smith traveled to the University of Florida to study chemical engineering. It was there that he penned the article with five other researchers, many of whom were graduate and doctoral students. While Smith’s article in Optic Letters will be his first published work, this is not the first time one of the teen’s accomplishments has made news.
Smith, a Parks Scholar majoring in nuclear engineering, first received notoriety for a Farnsworth fusor he created for his high school senior project. He received a perfect score on the project, which in total he spent about 200 hours working on.
The Farnsworth fusor is a device used to create nuclear fusion. Smith created his fusor using both used and refurbished parts that he began collecting around Christmas 2010. It took Smith six months and $1,600 to collect the parts for his fusor. With his fusor, Smith is able to create a very small amount of radioactive material from which he can determine what substance became radioactive.
Smith’s interest in studying nuclear engineering was sparked by a videogame, something that many argue is a detriment to today’s youth.
At age 8, Smith began playing his first videogame, “The Simpsons Road Rage.”
With the object of the game being to assist the citizens of Springfield in restoring their town back to normal from radioactive transit buses, Smith became inquisitive about the terminology used in the game.
When his father, a medical doctor, could not provide him with an explanation of the terms, the then-third-grader took it upon himself to go to the library and get some knowledge on the subject matter.
After reading several books on nuclear engineering, his interest in the field only deepened.
Smith also credits Bill Nye the Science Guy for nurturing his love of math and science. Aside from Nye the Science Guy, another scientist who inspired Smith was Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of the fusor.
According to figures provided by the N.C. State Minority Engineering Program website, in 2010 a total of 420 African American students were enrolled in the engineering program at N.C. State.
Despite the relatively small number of African American students enrolled in the engineering program, for Smith, race is not a factor. “I can do the work and I’m more than passionate about it. Color isn’t even a word in my dictionary. It’s all about passion,” said Smith.
In addition to the academic aspects of being a college student, Smith loves the individuals he has encountered while here at N.C State and hopes to build numerous friendships. Smith hopes to continue his research in the field in a more interdisciplinary setting and ultimately become the fourth African American male to receive a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.