Following a week-long celebration of science at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), Intel Corporation and Society for Science & the Public announced the top award winners for 2016.
Han Jie (Austin) Wang, 18, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, received top honors with the Gordon E. Moore Award and a USD 75,000 prize. Syamantak Payra, 15, of Friendswood, Texas, and Kathy Liu, 17, of Salt Lake City, Utah, each received an Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and a USD 50,000 scholarship.
In addition, more than 400 Intel ISEF competitors received scholarships and prizes for innovative research presented at the competition. This included 20 “Best of Category” winners, as well as grants to the winners’ schools and their Intel ISEF-affiliated fairs.
Intel ISEF awards included approximately USD 4 million in scholarships and prizes.
Han Jie (Austin) Wang, 18, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, received the Gordon E. Moore Award of $75,000 for developing microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that more efficiently convert organic waste into electricity. Specifically, Wang identified specific genes in genetically enhanced E. coli bacteria that enabled them to generate power efficiently. His system can produce significantly more power than existing MFC processes at a cost that is competitive with solar energy, which he believes will make MFCs commercially viable.
Runners-up honors went to two individuals named as Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award winners. Each of these students received USD 50,000 in scholarship funds for their ground-breaking research.
Syamantak Payra, 15, of Friendswood, Texas, developed a low-cost electronically-aided knee brace that allows an individual with a weakened leg to walk more naturally. When Payra tested his prototype with two individuals partially disabled by polio, it almost immediately restored a more natural gait and increased mobility.
Kathy Liu, 17, of Salt Lake City, Utah, developed an alternative battery component that could significantly improve battery performance and safety. Liu’s rechargeable battery is smaller and more lightweight, without the risk of fire inherent in lithium-ion batteries, which are used in planes, mobile phones and even hoverboards.