"Banjos, Landmines & Saying Yes" - Marian Bechtel

Marian Bechtel is a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College studying geology, physics, and gender studies. At age 13, Marian had her eyes opened to the horrors of landmines. She met a group of international scientists working on a device that utilized holographic radar to detect buried landmines (RASCAN), and was inspired by their work.


 

Marian Bechtel

Marian Bechtel is a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College studying geology, physics, and gender studies. At age 13, Marian had her eyes opened to the horrors of landmines. She met a group of international scientists working on a device that utilized holographic radar to detect buried landmines (RASCAN), and was inspired by their work. The one weakness in their device, they said, was that it was rendered useless in wet environments.

One day while playing the piano, Marian noticed that the strings on a nearby banjo resonated when she played certain notes or chords. This gave her an idea — she realized that using acoustic or seismic waves to excite a buried landmine could allow for its detection, even in wet soils. Thus, she joined her newfound passion for humanitarian de-mining with her love of music, and embarked on a long scientific journey, going through three different projects to further this idea, and eventually creating a simple prototype of an acoustic detection device on the frame of a scrap metal detector.

Marian's research projects took her across the country to many science fairs, including Intel ISEF and I-SWEEEP, and even around the world, to the Royal Society's 250th Summer Science Exhibition in London. Marian was a 2011 Davidson Fellow, and a finalist in the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search, where she was awarded the Glenn T. Seaborg award for passion in communicating science to the public. She was also featured in the August 2012 issue of Popular Science Magazine as one of their Top 10 High School Inventors.

Marian published her work in the Summer 2013 issue of the Journal of ERW and Mine Action.

2014Valerie Grant