|6 Dec 2022
|2021 Finalists Global Student Prize
Lisandro Acuña is an Argentinian high school student interested in the intersection between politics, human rights, mathematics and technology. When he was just eight years old he started participating in math Olympiads, reaching second place in the National Math Olympiad at just nine years of age. At 12 years old, he represented Argentina for the first time internationally, obtaining a Silver Medal at a major Latin-American Math Olympiad.
Though Lisandro found a passion for mathematics at an early age, he now focuses his talents on the application of computer science to real everyday problems. What interests him is the transformation of scientific and technological discoveries into disruptive startups with a global impact through entrepreneurship. For instance, when he discovered that a dyslexic classmate had to take exams orally instead of in writing, he knew it was a problem that had to be solved. Together, he and a team of three friends developed LectO: a free desktop app consisting of a text editor with special features that make reading and writing easier for people with dyslexia. With this invention, they then discovered that more than one person had dyslexia in the class, and suddenly many of their classmates sat up and took notice. The application got attention from Microsoft and DISFAM – the most important Ibero-American NGO for dyslexia – who offered support and invited Lisandro and his team to present the project at their biannual conference in Mallorca, Spain. So far LectO has helped 5,000 people, and the experience showed Lisandro how these tools have the potential to change people’s lives.
Lisandro finished in the National Top 5 at the Computer Science Olympiads in 2019 and 2020, and he is now part of the Argentinian team that will represent the country in 2022 at the Ibero-American Computer Science Olympiad. Last year he represented Argentina at the International Mathematical Olympiad, the world’s biggest high-school science competition, where he obtained an Honorable Mention. However, he has also had to work hard for his chances. To study at the specialist ORT technical school – a place he wanted to go since primary school days – he had to win several academic competitions and get a perfect GPA in order to win a scholarship and fund his studies.
If Lisandro were to win the Prize, he has decided to donate a large portion of the funds to education systems in developing countries, in order to buy computers, improve Internet access, and provide other things that are basic to a 21st-century education. At the same time, he would invest some of the money in personal projects such as LectO and Unicope, which he believes have the potential to change the world for the better.