Nine Blazers move to next round in STEM scholarships competition
Eight Blair seniors advanced in the 2012 Siemens competition in math, science, engineering and technology (STEM) to become semifinalists, and one junior was named a regional finalist.
The Siemens Foundation was founded in 1998 as a way to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The Siemens competition, administered by the College Board, awards different prizes for individuals and teams, with the Siemens Foundation giving over $7 million each year in the STEM fields. Blair has competed in the Siemens competition for several years, but has yet to produce a winner. This year, 2,255 students submitted a total of 1,504 different projects. From these, 322 were named semifinalists, including Blair seniors Samir Durvasula, Danting Liu, Elizabeth Liu, Jason Ma, Charles Pasternak, Jinhie Skarda, Ashley Yuen and Sam Zbarsky. Junior Neil Davey is Blair's sole regional finalist out of the 93 students selected.
To become eligible for the competition, students must have completed a significant STEM project and compiled their research into a report. "These students have invested time, energy and talent in tackling challenging scientific research at a young age," Jennifer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation, said about the contestants in a press release.
The semifinalists felt proud of the hard work they put into their projects. "I was really happy to find out I was a semifinalist. Essentially, it gave me some affirmation that my project and my paper-writing skills were both good," Pasternak said. "Since I spent so much time working on it, it is nice to know that the paper turned out well." Pasternak's project was called, "Probabilistic Analysis of Quantum Error Correcting Codes."
Durvasula, who worked on joint-project with Ma called "Determining the Role of the Inferotemporal Cortex (IT) in Neural Decision Making," believed that their project, in particular, showcased their enthusiasm to contribute to scientific research. "There are alot of 'typical' projects: energy, cancer with genetics, etc.," Durvasula explained. "Our project wasn't one of those typical projects, and the medical implications weren't directly clear. But it was a subject that we were very passionate in. So it shows that you don't need to work on a typical project to do well; you just have to focus on what you're passionate about."
Additional reporting from Brittany Cheng.
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