Four Indian American middle school students were honored as winners in various categories at the fifth annual Broadcom MASTERS finals held in the Silicon Valley area of California, which took place Oct. 1 through Oct. 7.
The four winners came from a list of 30 finalists that included a total of nine Indian Americans (I-W Sept. 11, 2015 http://bit.ly/1Loo8AX). None of the four won the top prizes, which went to 13-year-old Annie Ostojic of Indiana and Sebastian Mellen of San Diego.
Ostojic won the grand prize, the Samueli Foundation Prize, a $25,000 gift of Susan and Henry Samueli, co-founder, chairman and chief technical officer of Broadcom Corporation. Mellen won the second overall prize, the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli award for innovation.
Outside of the top two winners, there was a first- and second-place STEM award winner. While no Indian Americans won in the science, engineering and mathematics awards, they swept the Technology awards.
Manasa Bhimaraju, of Cupertino, Calif., the only Indian American sixth grader among the finalists, earned the top spot in the Technology award category for her project on a low-cost animated teaching tool for the study of elements in the periodic table with an interface for the visually impaired.
Eighth grader Anusha Zaman, of Baton Rouge, La., placed second in the Technology category for her project on the potential health effects of betel use.
Anish Singhani, a seventh grader of San Ramon, Calif., won the Rising Star award for his project on an electronic system that lets a person use brain waves to control devices, such as a wheelchair and computer keyboard.
For all STEM award winners, first place recipients were awarded $3,500 and second place received $2,500 to support their choice of STEM summer camp experiences offered around the country, as well as an iPad. Singhani, as a Rising Star, won a trip to Intel ISEF, one of the largest international high school science fair competitions, to be held in May 2016. He will be the United States delegate to the Broadcom MASTERS International competition.
In addition to the individual award winners, there were a group of finalists who won a Team award. Included in that team were Indian Americans Singhani and Naya Menezes, an eighth grader from San Diego, Calif. Team award winners won by demonstrating their ability to work together, and solve problems through shared decision making, communication and scientific and engineering collaboration, and earned an iPod Nano for the achievement.
A panel of scientists and engineers selected the 30 finalists, which were pared down from a list of more than 2,200 applicants. The list was then trimmed down to 300 semifinalists before the finalists were announced by Broadcom MASTERS, which stands for “Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars,” and the Society for Science and the Public Sept. 2.
Fourteen girls and 16 boys spanning 14 states and representing 28 schools and one home school were among the finalists. Five sixth graders, nine seventh graders and 16 eighth graders were named finalists.