In 2012, when President Obama wanted to demonstrate the benefits of investing in math and science education, he invited 14-year-old Joey Hudy to the White House so the boy could fire hot melty sugar at the walls of the State Dining Room with his marshmallow canon.
On Tuesday night, January 28, Hudy, now 16, will be one of the president’s special guests at his 2014 State of the Union speech.
Here’s what you need to know about the wunderkind:
1. Hudy Rose to Prominence as a Maker Faire Champion
Hudy discovered his love of engineering when his mother took him to Maker Faire, an event described on its website as:
Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors.
He was inspired by the other “makers” he met, telling Success Circuit, “I guess my inspiration was getting to be with other people that understood me.”
He returned to Maker Faire the next year with the marshmallow canon, a contraption he dreamed up while bored in school:
I made a little air pressured thing with a water bottle, and then I decided to make a bigger one. I checked on line to make sure my design idea wasn’t like anyone else’s. It wasn’t that difficult to make. I made it with Home Depot; the worst part was the smell of the glue! Marshmallows were the only thing my mom would let me use.
When MAKE was asked to send two of their most brilliant kids to the White House, Joey was selected.
Last year, Hudy won a $1,000 from the Sun Valley Solar Solution Challenge, for building a solar-powered computer.
2. He Is the Youngest Person Ever Hired by Intel
In December, Hudy met Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at the Maker Faire in Rome and was hired on the spot. Intel’s internship program is normally reserved for college-aged students, but for Hudy they chose to make an exception.
Hudy attended new employee orientation at Intel’s campus in Chandler, Arizona, and wrote of the experience on his blog: “What a awesome place. It was so fun. I can’t wait to start making cool stuff!!”
3. He Was Named One of the World’s 10 Smartest Kids
In April of last year, Business Insider named Hudy one of the World’s Ten Smartest Kids. In their write-up, Hudy says his proudest creations are two LED Arduino Shields, printed circuit expansion boards that can be taken apart and assembled. He’s created a small business by selling the Shields on multiple websites. He hopes the contraptions will help other kids discover the joy of engineering that’s so transformed his own life.
4. He Has Asperger’s
Hudy has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, but he does not consider the condition to be any kind of handicap, telling Success Circuit:
The only real struggles I’ve had are finding my age friends that have the similar interests. All but three of my friends are adults, which is cool. Having autism really hasn’t been too much of a struggle — it’s helped more.
5. Making Things Is the Only Thing He’s Good At
Or anyhow, that’s what his blog’s modest “About Me” suggests, where Hudy writes:
I have tried to do karate, soccer, baseball, tennis, but non of them I am good at or completely like. The only thing I am good at is making things, I am ok at archery though and I like it.
You can watch Obama testing Hudy’s marshmallow canon here: