Each year, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, Intel ISEF seeks out the brightest sparks in science and engineering. More than 1700 students from all over the world met in Phoenix, Arizona this time. They tackled topics ranging from interactive robots to a solution to a local environmental issue, or research into an illness afflicting a family member – these are projects rooted in where these young people come from and who they are.
I’m proud that we had great presence from EMEA with finalists and winners from national fairs coming from more than 30 countries, whether from Dubai or Doha, Munster or Minsk.
And I’m always astounded by the quality, creativity and complexity of the projects. These kids are indeed scientists, next generation entrepreneurs and inventors, they are assertive, curious, and their ideas profound as a result. Through scientific discovery, diligent research, and inventive engineering they tackle challenges they come across in their daily lives and I’m confident that these kids are going to go on and change the world.
Finalists like Sharon Magennis from Ulster, whose idea promised to bring smart genetics to the masses, or Johannesburg’s Anna Tapp and her strategy for tackling environmental problems associated with concrete and acid mines: all these typified the sort of connected thinking and compassionate curiosity that underpins the ideals of Intel ISEF.
18 year old Han Jie Wang from Canada won the first place for developing microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that more efficiently convert organic waste into electricity. Imagine, Wang identified specific genes in genetically enhanced E. coli bacteria that enabled them to generate power efficiently, and found a way to make MFCs commercially viable.
Year after year, I am reminded of the potential that the future holds for students entering STEM subjects, and every year this pool of students becomes more diverse. In 2016, the list of Intel ISEF finalists was almost an exact female to male split! The big task for us as industry and society will be to keep that balance moving forward when these students will enter their professional life! With boys and girls represented competing equally, the fair gives a glimpse of the gender-balanced world that we all hope science and engineering can move towards. The talent has always been there, and fairs like Intel ISEF shine a light on both the issue and the progress we have made in tackling it.
Intel ISEF highlights the finest talent in the world and celebrates their passion for science and engineering, to make this world a better and more collaborative place. As Nobel Prize-winner Sir Harold Kroto told our finalists: “Do what you care about and do it to your best ability. What emerges from that will emerge from you and will be right.”
Bernadette Andrietti, Intel Vice President, Director Marketing Europe, Middle East and Africa