Hardware, Software Programs

Siemens: High School Science Students Pocket $300,000 for Innovations


Thirteen students from across the US were handed large amounts of cash just prior to Christmas. No, the money wasn’t a gift. These kids worked hard for the award and recognition of their efforts in the field of math, science, and technology. The competition was sponsored by the Siemens Foundation.

The winning individuals and teams submitted projects in biochemistry, gaming, astrophysics, mathematics, bioengineering, chemistry and biology. Yes, gamers were among the winners at this science-oriented event. Their game was based in bioengineering and could eventually help design joint replacement devices and prosthetics for amputees.

Team Winners Liu and Cain Celebrate their Winnings.

Team Winners Liu and Cain Celebrate their Winnings. Photo by Siemens Foundation

The team’s project was called "Using Kinect for Xbox 360 and Computer Vision to Analyze Human Gait". Judge Sudeep Sarkar, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, University of South Florida said of Ziyuan Liu’s and Cassee Cain’s entry "This team’s project involved the creative reuse of new gaming technology – the Kinect sensor ? with advanced computer vision algorithms. When further developed… this could potentially reduce medical costs, allowing clinicians to monitor a patient’s progress from a remote site."

Michael W. Plesniak, Professor and Chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at George Washington University led the panel of judges which was drawn from nationally renowned scientists and mathematicians.

Angela Zhang with the Display Illustrating Her Winning Project

Angela Zhang with the Display Illustrating Her Winning Project. Photo by Anya Grottel-Brown

The judges awarded the top individual $100,000 prize to Angela Zhang of Cupertino, California for a nanotechnology design. The high school student working under the mentorship of Dr. Zhen Cheng of Stanford University devoted almost 1,000 hours to the project. Announcing her award, Siemens explained that the targeted gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle has the potential to eradicate cancer stem cells through a controlled delivery of the drug salinomycin to the site of the tumor. The multifunctional nanoparticle combines therapy and imaging into a single platform, with the gold and iron-oxide components allowing for both MRI and Photoacoustic imaging.

National finalists in both the individual and team categories were awarded scholarships ranging in amounts from $10,000 to $50,000. More students registered this year than in the other 12 prior in which the competition has been held. More than 2,400 students from 21 states worked on 1,541 submitted projects. Regional competitions were held at the following research centers: California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame and The University of Texas at Austin.

A summary of the runners up and short bios on the first place winners are available here. A quote from Socrates, indicated he had a low opinion of the younger generation. These kids would have made him proud.