MANILA, January 15, 2004 (STAR) A 22-year-old student from the University of the Philippines-Diliman gave Filipinos another reason to be proud of for qualifying as one of the 12 finalists of the Young Inventors Award for 2003 of the Far Eastern Economic Review.

The Young Inventors Awards aims to encourage and honor the spirit of invention among students in the Asia-Pacific region. Hewlett-Packard is sponsoring the awards for the fourth consecutive year in demonstration of its commitment to innovation and philanthropy.

Deorex David Navaja, an undergraduate in Materials Engineering, entered the finals for his invention that can purify solid waste by-products of sugar cane, which can cause respiratory diseases, and process them into commercial-grade cement.

The finalists come from a pool of 92 entries sent in by students from universities and other tertiary institutions throughout the region.

The entries cover fields of study and research ranging from the high-tech sciences of nanotechnology, medicine and computing to more down-to-earth, but no less important fields such as agriculture, construction and pollution-free energy production.

All entries were evaluated on their originality, presentation, potential impact on humanity, and commercial feasibility.

"HPís role in this competition says much about our commitment to our market, not just as a leading technology provider, but also as an advocate for inventiveness and creativity among our nationís future scientists and inventors," says Nilo Cruz, managing director of HP Phils.

Navajaís invention was conceptualized in his hometown of Musuan in Bukidnon, specifically for a high school chemistry project.

Living near several sugar milling factories, Navaja and a friend observed how sugar cane by-products were just piled and left unattended after being processed by these factories.

They noted that these by-products pose a serious threat to their community since they are potential causes of respiratory diseases.

With their inventive minds going to work, Navaja and his friend took some waste samples and had them analyzed. Eventually, they found out that these sugar cane by-products have the same components needed to make commercial cement. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Navaja says that by joining the Young Inventors Awards, he hopes to see the project come into fruition and realize the projectís goal.

"With this project, we hope to be able to provide Filipinos with a cheaper, yet comparable alternative to commercial cement. At the same time, we can help sugar milling companies reduce their wastes and instead turn them into usable raw materials."

Navaja considers himself lucky to be included as one of the finalists, knowing how tough the competition is.

"I feel extremely proud to be included in the finals, although I was not expecting it. I will do my best and give my fellow Filipinos something to be proud of," he says.

The Gold, Silver and Bronze award winners will each receive HP computer equipment and an all-expense paid trip to HP Labs in Palo Alto, California. Their schools will also receive cash prizes.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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