UC Science and Engineering Expo Selects Students for State and Intel ISEF Competitions

Nearly 400 7–12 graders from 39 schools in southwestern Ohio competed Saturday, March 13, at the University of Cincinnati’s sixth-annual Science and Engineering Expo for $55,000 in awards and scholarships. Superior ratings were given to 112 student poster presentations and were thus recommended for the Ohio Academy of Science State Science Day, which will be held in Columbus on May 8.

In addition, two individual student projects and one team project were selected to compete at the world’s largest pre-college science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in San Jose, Calif., May 9 – 13. The individual project winners were Ravi Sheth (Sycamore High School) and Michael Di Mascio (Waynesville High School). The team project, also from Sycamore, was presented by Damien Walsh and Sam Sohlden.

Among the awards were three UC Presidential Scholarship awards that went to Alexander Chernyakhovsky ($3,000), Michael Di Mascio ($2,000) and Dennis Tseng ($1,000) if they enroll at UC in any STEMM major of their choosing. Alex, a senior at Mason High School, and Michael, a senior at Waynesville High School, are SEE veterans; this is Alexander’s sixth and Michael’s fourth science fair at UC. In fact, Alex has competed at SEE every year that UC has held a science fair.

NASA's Kobie Boykins, Alex Chernyakhovsky, Dennis Tseng, Michael Di Mascio, VP Sandra Degen.

NASA's Kobie Boykins, Alex Chernyakhovsky, Dennis Tseng, Michael Di Mascio, VP Sandra Degen.

Tom Cruse, director of UC’s Science & Engineering Expo, noted that chemistry — for the first time — was the most popular category, followed by medicine. Altogether, 396 students competed with 342 projects, including 94 team projects from 12 high schools.

At SEE 2009, seniors Brent Gargano and Jennifer Andrews of Sycamore High School were selected to go to the Intel ISEF in Reno, Nev. At SEE 2010,

UC freshman

Brent Gargano addressed the SEE participants seated in the Fifth Third Arena, where he had been seated just the year before.

“The level of professionalism that you gain from this experience carries into your college and later in life,” he explained. He advised the students to “get excited about science. Do what you enjoy.”

Then he spontaneously asked his former teacher, Beth Quinones of Sycamore, to stand so that he could publically thank her for starting the Sycamore biotech program and for helping him enter the UC science fair.

UC's Vice President of Research, Sandra Degen, co-emceed the event.

"I'm so glad to see so many young faces on campus who love the same thing I do — science!" she said.

NASA engineer Kobie Boykins was the keynote speaker before the awards ceremony, entertaining and enlightening the audience about the Mars program. He applauded the students and their pursuit of discovery, saying that he started out where they were now — doing science fair projects.

"I'm a geek and I'm proud of it!" Boykins exclaimed.

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