While Penn is full of exceptional students, it’s still pretty rare to meet someone who scores their first patent before ever earning their degree.
Earlier this year, Engineering sophomore Nastasia Efremkina not only secured her first patent for a firearm tracker, but also was recognized by The Huffington Post as one of this year’s 20 Under 20 STEAM pioneers to watch for.
She first submitted her application for a patent during her junior year of high school following the Sandy Hook massacre. Hoping to find a way to prevent similar tragedies, she came up with an idea for a microprocessor which would function as a firearm tracker. When installed in a gun, it would alert police or other security officials when an individual was attempting to transport a firearm into a prohibited area.
“I thought of this idea of how to protect people’s rights, but also, at the same time, protect people in public areas,” Efremkina said.
Recognized as an ‘Innovator and Coder’, Efremkina graced Huffington Post’s annual list of “the next generation of pioneers who hold the promise for shaping our future for the better”, according to their 20 Under 20 article.
She is heavily involved with #BUILTBYGIRLS which works to introduce, prepare and aid young women in building careers in technology. She attends various conferences and panels across the nation to promote the organization and to reach out to other young women.
“It’s a platform that empowers young women to be in business and in tech,” she said. Efremkina speaks about “how to go past this idea of tech — that it’s not an accessible thing for a young woman — and how to get over this obstacle.”
On campus, Efremkina is a member of the sailing team, the sorority Alpha Phi and the co-ed engineering fraternity Theta Tau. Last year she was a member of a team at PennApps which placed in the top 10 out of more than 150 participants.
A lifelong lover of mathematics, Efremkina became interested in the field of computer science in high school.
“I loved that in computer science if you have an idea you can just make it, if you have access to internet and a computer.”
She is a graduate of Ardsley High School where she initiated a movement for a computer science class, resulting in the creation of an Intro to Java course. She was also invited to join the school’s faculty-led technology committee. In 2015 she was a recipient of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award in the New York City Competition and was a runner up in the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing National Award Competition. She was also involved with Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization that works to eliminate the current gender gap in the field of technology.
Efremkina is committed to continuing to work in STEAM.
“I definitely want to do something with technology — something where it helps a lot of people.”