Let there be algorithmic origami… and there was!

Guest Post by Cheng Herng Yi , one of the award-winning Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2011 participants, who shares an abridged version of how he won the First Award in the category of Computer Science for his project—Composing Frusta to Fold Polyhedral Origami.

Cheng Herng Yi (extreme right) standing tall with other award winning ISEF representatives from Singapore

My interest in origami stems from my passion in Mathematics and my desire to understand the geometry behind the origami models. You see many years ago, I folded an origami of the Eiffel Tower, part of which included folding a cube that rose out from the paper. My curiosity made me play around with the model. I managed to change the folding instructions to fold cuboids of all sizes!

Over the years, I tinkered with the models and managed to derive algorithms to fold even more complex shapes. These coupled with my encounter with Mitani’s algorithm, a Japanese researcher who presented an algorithm during the International Conference on Origami in Science, Mathematics and Education, led me to embark on this project.

When I derived the initial algorithm in my project, it did not work in many instances, so I persevered. Through detailed analysis of the failed algorithms, I eventually discovered a simpler yet better algorithm, which is what my project entails today.

Of course, none of this would have eventuated, if not for my teacher-mentor, Mr Cheong Kang Hao, who was most inspirational in guiding and supporting me in my researching project. His critical questioning always led me to ponder about my project and finesse it to perfection.

To show my appreciation for his guidance and encouragement, I nominated him for the Agilent Technologies Teacher Science Development Award.

ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science fair. It is held in the US annually and provides an opportunity for students from different parts of the world to showcase their science projects.

Cheng Herng Yi hails from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. On top of the First Award, he also won two Special Awards; a 2nd Award of cash prize $500 from the Association for Computing Machinery, and a 2nd Award of cash prize US$150 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Society.

1 response to Let there be algorithmic origami… and there was!

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