Eric Bardet

The medal-winner in front of his board.

As a seventh grader from California, Eric Bardet was faced with the challenge of choosing the right topic for his project for the National History Day competition.

"I thought of many subjects and did brief research on them," he says. "I narrowed in on the transistor after skimming through They All Laughed [by Ira Flatow]. I liked the fact that most people I talked to didn't know what one was."

Showing industriousness beyond his years, Eric scoured libraries for books, newspapers and magazine articles, and used the Internet to contact colleges and companies in order to request archival information. He read speeches and essays and listened to old radio broadcasts. He also conducted interviews with the likes of Gene Anderson, Walter Brown, and others from places like NASA, Bell Labs and the military. All told, his bibliography is 17 pages thick.

"I learned that the transistor has intensely impacted all electronic fields," he says. "I also found a connection between the Cold War and transistor application, and that the military funded transistor development. The transistor changed war equipment by making guided missles, hand-held radios, aircraft electronics and advanced radar systems possible."

The competition's 1999 theme was Science, Technology, and Inventions in History: Impact, Influence, and Change, and Eric called his project "Liberated Electronics: The Transistor—Key to the Information Age." He advanced from the county competition to the state finals, where he was chosen to represent California at the national competition.

Congratulations Eric—we salute you.


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