Brookings student wins science award with groundbreaking project

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KSFY) - A Brookings High School student took home the first place award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona.

The recognition originated from his project to fight the opioid epidemic here in South Dakota and around the world.

Aditya Tummala is only 14-years-old and he's found a new technology that could potentially solve the problems of the opioid epidemic. This project may be the new leader in combating prescription opioid abuse.

Tummala developed a gummy-like substance similar to a gummy bear that would make a tamper-proof opioid pill, that means the pill cannot be crushed or melted for snorting or injecting.

"It's an innovative tablet technology to prevent tampering for opioid tablets," Tummala said.

His project is called 'Tampr-X.' This new innovation would make it harder for people to misuse prescription pills, but retains the same therapeutic benefits.

"This is the tablet itself and you can't crush it because it's a very similar to a gummy bear in that it's made of a gelatin and other plasticizers which makes it so that you can't crush it to a dry powder," Tummala said.

He started thinking of this idea while he was in only 7th grade.

"I thought of this because I was really curious about the world since a really young age," Tummala said.

When he was waiting for his name to be called for awards he anxiously waited in anticipation not thinking his name would be called.

"They said third place and then second place and my hopes kept going down and then they said first place and that was my name and I was super excited because it was beyond something I could ever imagine getting at an international science fair so that was really unbelievable," Tummala said.

And he had his dad there right by his side cheering him on.

"Just yelling from the stands yeah go," Tummala said.

Other than working to cure opioid addiction he finds time to be a normal teenager and while putting in countless number of hours on this project he's learned through trial and error.

"So when he came up with the idea it sounded really silly. It sounded like a kid idea we were laughing at it but then when we started moving forward it shaped up," Aditya’s dad, Hemachand Tummala said. "That's an experience I think for children to learn."

Aditya said that 'Tampr-X' has proven to be successful and he's begun reaching out to non-profit organizations to team up with.

'Tampr-X' has a U.S. patent pending on it to help get something like this regulated through the Food and Drug Administration.

Addiction Science first place winners received a $2,500 scholarship all the way down to a $1,000 scholarship for second and third place winners.