AUSTIN, Texas—High school students presenting projects on computer security and sensor technology won the Southwest Regional Finals of the Siemens Westinghouse Science & Technology Competition, hosted by The University of Texas at Austin this weekend. The competition is a scholarship and awards program of the Siemens Foundation.
Nine high school students presented original research on topics as wide ranging as nuclear fusion, the impact of shark cartilage extracts on the growth of tumors and the predatory habits of the octopus. The competition is designed to encourage interest by high school students and teachers in the study of math and science.
David Bauer and Roshitha Dunstan, both of Oak Ridge, Tenn., won the team competition for original research on computer security and will share a prize of $30,000. The two developed a new encryption, or coding, algorithm that can be used to secure data — such as credit card numbers and files — during online transactions.
Dr. Richard A. Matzner, UT Austin professor in the department of physics and lead judge for the regional competition, said Bauer and Dunstan “have developed a novel means of encryption that is competitive with the best commercially available technologies that exist today.” Matzner added that the team “has a very clear understanding of the importance that computer security will have for e-commerce, communications and information exchange into the next millennium.”
The winner of the individual category was Lizhou “Lisa” Wang, a senior at the Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii, who received an award of $20,000. Her original research project involved sensor technology and the grafting of polymers (chemical compounds) onto gold. She first investigated conditions under which polymerization was carried out on silica surfaces, then manipulated those conditions on metal surfaces.
Matzner said Wang’s presentation and research “is of the highest professional level. Her paper is publishable as it is today. She has undertaken innovative research and has presented it in such detail as to allow replication by others æ a real contribution to the scientific community.”
Wang, Bauer and Dunstan will compete with winners of five other U.S. regional competitions in the final round in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4-6. The top individual scholarship prize is $100,000. Student teams in the finals are competing for shares of a $90,000 scholarship. All of the prize money will be applied toward the winning students’ undergraduate or graduate education.
The nine competitors at the UT Austin event included two Texas students, Amanda Chambers, 17, a senior at Sandra Day O’Connor High School in San Antonio, and Anshul Haldipur, 17, a senior at William P. Clements High School in Sugar Land.
Chambers investigated the effectiveness of shark cartilage as an alternative therapy for cancer. She conducted hours of research on shark cartilage and collagenases, a group of enzymes that decompose collagen and gelatin.
Haldipur and Roberto Torres, a student at the Colegio Catolico Notre Dame in Caguas, Puerto Rico, studied nuclear fusion at the NASA apprenticeship program at Hampton University in Virginia this year. They used this research for their Siemens project entry, communicating through the Internet to prepare their presentation. Their research focused on the shape and motion of magnetic flux surfaces that run through plasma inside fusion reactors.
Siemens Corp., the foundation’s parent company, is involved in a variety of U.S. industries including telecommunications, energy and power, lighting and precision materials, industry and automation, healthcare, microelectronics and components, transportation and information systems. In 1998, Siemens’ U.S. businesses had more than 66,000 employees and sales of more than $11.0 billion. Siemens AG, based in Berlin and Munich, is one of the world’s largest electrical engineering and electronics companies and employs over 400,000 people in a total of 193 countries.
For more information, contact Thomas Varney at Siemens Corp. (212) 258-4335 or Esra Ozer Siemens Foundation (212) 258-4348, or visit the website at www.siemens-foundation.org.