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Tesca Fitzgerald blazes new intellectual territory after college at 12, off to start her Ph.D. at 16 | OregonLive

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Her team advanced to the international meet but was nearly disqualified there, Ami Fitzgerald says. "They didn't think a 10-year-old could do that work. It was such a unique concept, even the (organizers) had never thought of it and were sure a grown-up must have come up with it."

But the teen confidently made her case to 15 dubious adults. It helped that she is an unusually poised public speaker who has, among other things, helped keynote a major Google science fair event in New York City. Even so, she was asked to submit to a software exam and show her transcript before they relented.

Two years later, she reached her mini-robot zenith: She spent 600-plus hours to write and perfect a complex artificial intelligence code so the robot could make its own decisions and operate itself. Designers of the robotics program flew in from Europe and talked to her for hours about how she pushed their software beyond what any had imagined possible.

"These adults learned from someone who had tested their software to the absolute limit," Ami Fitzgerald says.

Massey, the honors thesis adviser, says Tesca Fitzgerald is still enlightening her elders. The speed, versatility and creativity she's exhibited in creating a program to test-drive user interfaces, researching machine learning logarithms and other projects have wowed people more than twice her age, he says.

"That's how it should be with your best undergraduates. By the end, they're teaching you stuff."

I find her story very inspiring. She seems amazing.

Wow, I never cease to be amazed at what people can do at such a young age. Certainly Tesca has the intellectual horsepower, but it's more than that - it's passion, drive, curiosity and grit. That's a powerful combination.

Tesca Fitzgerald made her own Rube Goldberg machine:

Tesca Fitzgerald to drop the ball into the Rube Goldberg machine to initiate the Google Science Fair kickoff | Livingston Robotics Club (LRC) A FIRST robotics community network (FTC, FLL and Jr.FLL) for K-12 in New Jersey, USA

Here she is at the Google Science fair:

She is WAY better at public speaking than I am!

She started her PhD at Georgia Tech in 2013:

She's working in the Socially Intelligent Machines Lab.

Video from summer 2014:

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