A Fletcher Middle School 8th grader has placed in the top 30 in the country in the Broadcom MASTERS middle school STEM competition for his science project and will compete in the national competition in Washington DC mid-October.

Roy Gross invented a durable emergency communication device to be used in situations such as natural disasters. Gross said he wanted to create these devices after hearing about communication dilemmas in emergencies.

“I was at home and I was looking at what was happening on the news and how Hurricane Maria was really affecting Puerto Rico and what was happening to all the people there,” he said.

The user must simply download an app on their smartphone and pair the device to it via bluetooth. He made sure the device doesn’t rely on cell or radio towers, which can fail during natural disasters.

“You don’t have to connect to anything else,” he said. “You could just take 100 of these and give them to other people.”

Gross will fly to Washington in October and have the opportunity to participate in STEM-related group challenges and to win various awards. In the future, he plans to refine the project and make it more efficient.