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Four Students Join $100,000 Winners' Circle In 2012 Siemens Competition In Math, Science & Technology

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Research projects on robot navigation and on a tumor-suppressing protein today earned four remarkable students entree into the prestigious $100,000 winners' circle of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the nation's premier research competition for high school students.  The students join a highly selective group of just 13 individual competitors and 13 teams who have previously been awarded Grand Prizes in the Siemens Competition.

Kensen Shi, a senior at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, Texas, won the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category for developing a new method to improve robot motion planning.  Jeremy Appelbaum, William Gil and Allen Shin, seniors at George W. Hewlett High School in Hewlett, New York, will share the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Team category for investigating COP1, a key protein in plants and animals.

The Siemens Competition is a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, a leading supporter of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States.  The Competition is administered by the College Board.  The fourteenth annual awards were presented this morning at The George Washington University, host of the 2012 Siemens Competition National Finals.

Video, photos and bios at http://inr.synapticdigital.com/siemens/competition2012/

"We applaud Kensen Shi, Jeremy Appelbaum, William Gil and Allen Shin on the outstanding ingenuity and commitment they have shown in their research," said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of the Siemens Foundation.  "This is just the beginning of what we hope will be a lifelong journey for them in science, technology and mathematics.  We wish them every success on the journey and look forward to seeing their innovations to come."

Six individuals and six teams competed at the National Finals this weekend after winning one of six regional competitions in November.  They presented their research to a panel of judges comprised of nationally renowned scientists and mathematicians headed by lead judge Akos Vertes, PhD, Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The George Washington University, and co-director of the university's W.M. Keck Institute for Proteomics Technology and Applications. 

The Winning Individual

Kensen Shi won a $100,000 college scholarship for his project, Lazy Toggle PRM: A Single-Query Approach to Motion Planning.

" Kensen Shi designed a faster algorithm for robot motion planning, a very challenging problem in robotics," said competition judge Dr. Shashi Shekar, McKnight Distinguished University Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota.  "Imagine a robot from Transformers choosing a path and appropriate shape such as a dog or a snake to navigate a collapsed building to reach survivors after an earthquake.  Finding a solution quickly matters.  A critical component is computation time to figure out a path and shape sequence.  In many cases, Kensen's algorithm is two to four times faster than previous algorithms in terms of computation time."

"For a high school student, it is very impressive work.  His results are comparable to those of a PhD student beginning their thesis.  He connected the dots between two algorithmic ideas called 'Toggle' and 'Lazy' to bring them together in an effective way."

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