Grisha Nikulin ’22 Named Conrad Challenge Finalist

Congratulations to Grisha Nikulin ’22 on qualifying to be a finalist in the Conrad Challenge, one of the most prestigious science competitions in the world for students.
“I think the main thing that made me want to sign up and enter is how interesting the whole experience sounded,” said Nikulin.
The Conrad Challenge is an annual and international entrepreneurship competition that encourages students to become entrepreneurs and apply innovation, science, and technology in order to solve global and local challenges. Students identify real-world challenges that do not have a clear answer and they learn how to innovate by creating solutions that have the potential to change life for the better on the individual, national, and global levels. The entire competition lasts about six months. Participants go through different stages of interviews, multiple submissions about the different aspects of their project, and different rounds that determine which projects advance further into the competition.
“Because of this [challenge], I’d get the opportunity to learn tons about advanced solutions people are working on to address the world’s biggest challenges, as well as making some lasting connections with some really interesting people.”
There are eight categories participants can choose to compete in: Aerospace & Aviation, Cyber-Technology & Security, Energy & Environment, Health & Nutrition, two special categories of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, and Oceans: The Plastic Problem. Grisha is competing in the Aerospace & Aviation category.
“My project is called SHALPS – an Autonomous, Artificial-Intelligence-Based Space Habitat Air Leak Prevention System. It introduces a novel, efficient, reliable and accurate way to detect, and in turn, eliminate air leaks aboard space habitats. Essentially, it’s an interconnected network of barometric pressure sensors that are mounted onto small computer devices that can interpret its input accordingly. These are strategically placed around a given space habitat in order to instantly detect a potential leak. They’re all integrated through a unified software that utilizes artificial intelligence to better interpret the inputs and localize the location of the leak. I actually came up with the idea while browsing an article about how the ISS finally found a leak it’s been searching for almost a year. They had to use tea leaves and hand-held sensors to finally find the leak. I thought that it looked like a pretty big problem, so I wanted to fix it so space habitats in the future don’t have trouble with these kinds of things,” he said.  
As part of the competition, Grisha will compete for the top spot in his category, the Pete Conrad Scholar Award, against other STEM schools from around the world at the Innovation Summit in late April. Strake Jesuit was recently ranked 27th out of 5,000 STEM schools by Newsweek, and we are confident that Grisha will take the skills he’s learned and be successful in the final round.
To learn more about the Conrad Challenge, visit