LUCKNOW: Her Class 12 examinations are around two months away, but Dakshayani Pandey (17), daughter of a marginal farmer from Doharighat town on Mau-Gorakhpur border in UP, has no worries about her higher education as she has already secured a berth in the prestigious Stanford University, California (US).
Dakshayani, the winner of [email protected] National Youth Ideathon-2021 for her indigenously built low version automotive prototype capable of saving lives, will leave for the United States in September 2023 to pursue bioengineering and entrepreneurship on a 100% scholarship.
Her invention, ‘Mission Protector’, is a safety setup for cars which becomes active as soon as the level of carbon dioxide increases in the vehicle and rolls down the car window to allow fresh air inside. The idea for the prototype came to her after she came across a heart-breaking incident where a child died of suffocation after being accidentally locked in a car.
“When I logged on to the website of Stanford University, I witnessed a shower of confetti with the information about my selection. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I will now study in my dream university,” said an ecstatic Dakshayani. For Stanford, Dakshayani chose to go the test-optional and submitted her application without any SAT scores. Her essays and extra-curricular activities were a major part of her application.
I tried to show my passion towards innovation and design thinking and science (especially biology). I tried to show that I am intellectually curious.
These universities look for students who are passionate about specific things,” she said. Daughter of farmer Digvijay Nath Pandey and homemaker Reema Pandey, Dakshayani studied till Class 5 at the primary school in Doharighat village (now town).
She qualified the entrance test for admission to VidyaGyan, a rural leadership academy in Sitapur which handpicks economically underprivileged meritorious students from rural UP. At VidyaGyan, Dakshayani developed ‘Mission Protector’, a cost-effective automotive prototype using a MQ 135 sensor (highly sensitive to carbon dioxide levels) that is hooked to a microcontroller and a servo motor.
As soon as CO2 level crosses the danger level, the sensor triggers a message to servo motor which rotates and automatically pops open the car window to allow fresh air to flow in, thereby ruling out the chances of suffocation, especially for children. She has applied for a patent for her invention.
Dakshayani is currently working on a project ‘Geniscience’– a lab in a box – which enables every child to experience scientific learning in a laboratory without sitting in a fully functioning one. “I realised the importance of handson learning at my school.
India has millions of government and local schools which can’t afford a science lab, resulting in weak foundation and understanding of subjects. Geniscience is a step towards making hands-on learning possible for all,” said Dakshayani. Pramod Reddy, her mentor, said: “She is curious beyond our expectations.
She is a rare child who is extremely compassionate towards the society. Dakshayani is a problem-solver. When we developed the safety set up for cars for which she won a national prize, the only desire she had was to fix this in all cars, from Maruti Suzuki to Mercedes.
She is indeed a special child.” Coming from an economically weak background, underprivileged people are Dakshayani’s biggest source of motivation. “There are umpteen solutions to everyday problems but I believe that any invention is a real solution only when it is affordable and accessible,” she said.

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