At the same time three Naperville teens were completing their homework and studying for tests for their high school classes, they were pitching a business proposal at an international STEM and entrepreneurship competition held at Space Center Houston.

The students, who hail from Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools, were among the 25 finalists in the 2023-24 Conrad Challenge, which began with more than 4,000 high school students from 50 countries working to design solutions to global challenges.

As part of the finals, the trio had to pitch their invention to judges and ended up being one of five student teams recognized with the top honor of being named Pete Conrad scholars.

Andrew Bukowski, 17, and Eddy Zhang, 17, who attend Naperville Central, and Ben Zhang, 16, from Naperville North, worked an estimated 1,000 hours collectively on their proposal, called the SmartSeat, an algorithm-based variable seat cushion designed to combat bad posture and prolonged pressure exposure.

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