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Oct. 21, 2012

Blair students announced as Siemens semifinalists

by Sam Lewando, Online Entertainment Editor
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. Courtesy of Siemens Foundation
The Siemens Foundation was founded in 1998 as a way to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and math.
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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  • WHOOOO on October 22, 2012 at 1:59 PM
    Congratulationsss! Special high five to neil
  • GO HEAD GUYS on October 22, 2012 at 7:23 PM
    nice work guys!!!!!!!!
  • Seimens Siemens Siemens on October 24, 2012 at 9:50 PM
    YEAHH sweet nice work yallz
  • Poorly written on October 25, 2012 at 11:05 PM
    This article was pretty weak.. It was vague and it didn't explain how prestigious the award is or how much effort people had to put in.

    THE LAST PARAGRAPH IS MISSING AN END QUOTE. You didn't put an end quote after the title of the project's name. If you're going to write an article about such a reputable contest, the least you can do is have a properly written article.
    Come on now.
  • Fact Check on November 10, 2012 at 6:56 PM
    The subheading is wrong. Only one Blazer moved on to the next round.
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