Armed with a satchel of scholarships, West Virginia University officials and students are headed west to scout for the best and brightest future scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to bring back east to Morgantown.
A delegation of Mountaineers will travel to Los Angeles May 11-16 for the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering fair, the premier international precollegiate science fair. A program of Society for Science and the Public, the fair brings together more than 1,500 high school students from more than 70 countries, regions and territories who have developed original research projects and won on local, state or regional levels vying for more than $4 million in awards.
“This is the top of the pyramid as far as science fairs go,” said Jay Cole, the University’s chief of staff, who has volunteered as a judge in previous years of the competition. “And this is the perfect stage for West Virginia University to continue recruiting world-class innovators and promoting the University as an active member in the STEM community on an international level.”
For the third year in a row, WVU will be volunteering faculty and students in the fair. The University will also be distributing 10 full scholarships to high school students interested in pursuing their education and research at WVU.
Katherine Bomkamp, a senior political science major from Waldorf, Md., was a finalist in the competition in 2009 and 2010 for her “Pain Free Socket” invention, which aims to alleviate phantom pain in the world’s millions of amputees. She, along with a team of seven others, will work to select the next generation of students whose research and academic aptitude align with WVU’s institutional goals and research interests.
“We’re looking for students who will be the absolute best fit here at WVU,” Bomkamp said. “We have hundreds of projects to comb through that run the gamut – from computer science and engineering disciplines to health sciences and plant science.”
The University first awarded scholarships last year when the fair was held in Phoenix. Three then-seniors committed to WVU this past year.
WVU had about a dozen volunteer judges and student ambassadors at the 2012 Intel ISEF in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh will host the fair again in 2015, likely meaning an even larger turnout.
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is funded jointly by Intel and the Intel Foundation with additional awards and support from dozens of corporate, academic, governmental and science-focused organizations. To learn more about Society for Science & the Public, visit http://www.societyforscience.org.