When Avery Kress graduated from Walton High School in May, he left with more than a diploma and handful of stories.
The 18-year-old, bound for the University of Michigan this fall, holds two patents.
One is for the application of non-Newtonian fluids as ultra-high acceleration shock absorbers and G-force dissipaters. The patent also covers space launches with a toroidal mass driver.
The other patent covers a design for an ionocraft, “a small hovercraft that flies by forcing electrons through a copper wire and over a gradient of tinfoil,” Kress said.
Non-Newtonian fluids often differ from other fluids in that their thickness depends on deforming forces applied to them.
“I come up with ideas like that actually relatively often,” Kress said. “I knew that submerging things could protect them from shock, but I didn’t know if you could protect them over a long period of time, so I decided to test it. I did several centrifuge tests to prove the hypothesis, and it works.”
The East Cobb resident said he’s always been the experimental type.
“I’ve always had a really deep love of science,” Kress said. “For many years I tinkered with and experimented on things. I just kind of decided, based on my love of space and science, that aerospace engineering or physics would be best for me.”
He cited Walton chemistry teacher Jennice Ozment as an important source of support and encouragement through the process of obtaining the patents.
“He asked good questions. He was focused,” Ozment said. “He would take what I was talking about and apply it to other situations. He was a very good student.”
Despite his scientific success, Kress almost had to repeat his freshman year at Walton. He missed nearly two months because of complications involving strep throat. He later was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome.
“I was encouraged to leave, to just take the year off and start again as a freshman,” Kress said. “But I said no.”
Throughout high school, Kress struggled to catch up on his work while learning to manage his Tourette symptoms.
“There were a number of kind of relapses with it, where it got better and worse throughout the years,” Kress said. “But I’ve slowly gotten control over the Tourette syndrome and over the involuntary movements and what-not to the point where I’ll be successful again.”