MASTERS Alumni Continue Winning Streak with National STEM Scholarships, Accolades

It’s a given that past participants in the Broadcom MASTERS science and engineering fair competitions are exceptional students.

After all, they stood out among thousands of applicants across the country because of their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills and the level of promise they showed as future innovators in science and engineering.

Now in its fourth year, the Broadcom MASTERS program has “graduated” many alumni who march forward with their STEM careers — and continue to impress.

Nathan at ISEF 2014
Nathan Han

Among them are Nathan Han, winner of the Gordon Moore Award – the top prize at the 2014 Intel ISEF.

He’s in good company. Nathan’s Broadcom MASTERS colleagues have also made an impact at this year’s ISEF as award-winners, including Namrata Balasingam, Meagan Bethel, Rebecca Bloomfield, Ria Chhabra, Valerie Ding, Alicia D’Souza, Elan Filler, Maria Grimmett, Coleman Kendrick, Carolyn Jons, Shixuan Justin Li, Nicole Odzer and Julienne Sauer.

Last week, Broadcom MASTERS partner Society for Science and the Public caught up with River Grace, now 15 , who took home the $25,000 Samueli Prize in the 2013 MASTERS competition for his study of endangered radiated tortoises.

Grace used a portion of his award to travel to the Galapagos Islands to learn more about Darwin’s famed tortoises and recently received an invitation to travel to Madagascar with the Turtle Survival Alliance to promote conservation and see the radiated tortoises in their natural habitat.

He’s also taken his enthusiasm for conservation and STEM to new audiences as a speaker about his work at schools and zoos in his home state of Florida.

“Speaking at events like these is great fun because I help spread the word to the public about important issues, and I encourage young people like myself to get involved in science, math and engineering,” Grace told SSP. “After all, that’s what Broadcom MASTERS is all about!”

Benjamin Hylak, 17, was a second-place winner in the 2012 Broadcom MASTERS competition. He has since honed his electrical engineering and computer programming skills to create “robots with a purpose” – specifically, machines that can help out the elderly and sick.

Hylak’s 2012 Broadcom MASTERS project was his telepresence robot called “MAYA,” which stands for “Me and You Anywhere.” MAYA was designed to make it easier for people to have video chats with their relatives in assisted living or nursing care facilities.

Ben Hylak at the White House Science Fair
Ben Hylak at the White House Science Fair

Not only did his efforts earn him a shout-out from President Obama at the 2012 White House Science Fair, but also landed him a coveted spot at the 2014 World Maker Faire in New York last month. Hylak presented a talk called “Serious Robots on a Budget” at the Faire and demonstrated his latest invention, ALAIR, a robot with a utilitarian name that stands for “Assisted Living Autonomous Internet Robot.”

ALAIR is designed to interact with the elderly and can take blood pressure, oxygen levels, pulse counts, body temperature and even dispense medication.

Valerie Ding with Board
Valerie Ding

Now back to Valerie Ding, a 2011 Broadcom MASTERS finalist, who continues to rack up a slew of STEM accolades.

Ding, a 17-year-old high schooler from Portland, Ore., was recognized for graduate-level project, “Novel Next-Generation Multijunction Quantum Dot Solar Panel Designs Using Monte Carlo-Based Modeling,” which earned her a Davidson Fellows Scholarship for advanced research that has the potential to make a positive contribution to society.

Just a few of Ding’s other STEM achievements include:

  • Google Science Fair Top 15 Global Finalist
  • Intel ISEF 2-Time Fourth Place Grand Award, four special awards
  • International I-SWEEEP Olympiad Silver Medalist
  • Caroline D. Bradley Scholar
  • Among  83 high school students selected internationally for the 2014 Research Science Institute

Ding, who wrote about the powerful experience of participating as a Broadcom MASTER for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth magazine, is a “shining example of how the Broadcom MASTERS propels middle schoolers forward to stay deeply engaged with science and engineering as they enter high school,” said  Paula Golden, President and Executive Director of the Broadcom Foundation and Director of Broadcom Community Affairs.

“Our goal with the Broadcom MASTERS is to inspire young people to envision themselves as future scientists and engineers and to have the confidence to pursue their interests through many avenues that strengthen their critical thinking, communication and collaborative skills.” Golden said. “Along with her amazing colleagues, Valerie is one of the great exemplars of the Broadcom MASTERS program, not only by her enthusiastic endorsement of the program but also her continuing achievement as a physicist and engineer and physicist whose talent is  being recognized at the highest levels.”

Follow coverage of the finalists’ trip to Washington, D.C., on Broadcom’s Facebook and Twitter, and Society for Science and the Public’s Facebook and Twitter. Winners are set to be announced October 28th during an awards ceremony that will feature Broadcom Technical Director and Raspberry Pi inventor Eben Upton as keynote speaker.The 30 finalists’ names and projects can be viewed here.

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The prestigious Broadcom MASTERS® competition (where MASTERS stands for “Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars”) is an international science and engineering competition that is open to sixth, seventh and eighth graders around the world. The Broadcom MASTERS creates a project-based learning opportunity for young people to discover their passion and excel in STEM — enabling them to become the next generation of innovators.