Three Ward Melville Students Named Siemens Semifinalists

Jessica Guo and Samuel Kim

Three seniors attending Ward Melville High School, Brandon Feng, Kirti Nath, and Nestor Tkachenko have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2016 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, a prestigious science research competition for high school students. In addition, Nestor was also named a regional finalist.

The Siemens competition was established in 1999 by the Siemens Foundation to increase access to higher level education for students gifted in STEM subjects. This year, over 1600 individual projects were submitted by dedicated students, of which only 498 were named semifinalists on October 18th, 2016. On October 19th, the 96 regional finalists were named. As a finalist, Nestor presented his project at a regional competition in November to the Siemens committee, and could be selected to advance to the final phase of the competition, the National Finals at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C, in early December. There, $500,000 in scholarship money will be awarded, including two top prizes of $100,000.

Brandon’s project “A Robust Sensor Network-based Estimation Model for Wind Fields” focused around estimating wind fields using solar irradiance data taken from solar panels in order to maximize panel efficiency, while Kirti’s project, entitled “Assessing the developmental and metabolic toxicity of neuroactive pharmaceuticals using early life stage zebrafish” focused on the implications of pharmaceutical compounds released into the environment on wildlife.

Nestor’s project is on Eddy Current Levitation, which occurs when an alternating current is sent through a coil placed above a conducting plate, such as aluminum. He explored the possibility of using this technology commercially, and discovered that it could potentially be tremendously more efficient than the most efficient cars. While it would require aluminum roadways to function, roads out of sufficiently thick aluminum would cost much less than asphalt roads overall. Nestor originally entered the Siemens competition for fun and to share the research he had been doing the previous year, so his reaction was rather neutral at first. But now he feels differently, asserting, “Now I feel a bit overwhelmed with the Siemens Regional competition coming up, along with early action college applications and the Intel STS deadline approaching.”

When asked to give advice to students interested entering the Siemens the competition, Nestor replied, “I would really recommend choosing a topic you are very passionate about. I personally have been interested in magnetic levitation since my first years in school, and have explored various areas in the field. I also really recommend that you come up with your own research idea rather than piggy-backing off your mentors idea, since it will prompt you to be much more involved and passionate about the research. Lastly, make sure to use all the resources you have; anyone you know who is an expert or has experience in the field, a teacher at Ward Melville or someone from InSTAR can give you great advice.”