More than 100 Society for Science & the Public alumni, family, and friends attended the alumni reception held during the Broadcom MASTERS Science and Engineering Project Showcase on Saturday, October 3. Attendees had the chance to snack and mingle with each other, before being welcomed by Michele Glidden, Chief Program Officer, and Maya Ajmera, President & CEO of the Society and getting a chance to meet the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS finalists.
This event is part of a series of alumni events the Society is hosting this year around the country in an effort to better reconnect with our alumni and help them connect with each other. Alumni include participants in the Intel Science Talent Search (previously sponsored by Westinghouse), the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (previously known as the National Science Fair), or the Broadcom MASTERS (and earlier iterations of our middle school program, the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge and the Society Middle School Program).
Carolyn Carson, Society alumni coordinator, greets alumni and their families as they arrive at the reception
Maya Ajmera told the audience, “This room is filled with innovative individuals. You may have won distinguished awards, have stellar STEM careers, started companies, created products, or still be in the process of figuring out how exactly you are going to disrupt the status quo.”
Attendees included Marcian “Ted” Hoff, STS 1954. Hoff was one of the earliest Intel employees, but he notes his Science Talent Search project was based in chemistry and related to fossil fuels, an issue still being researched today. His favorite memories from STS are visiting the computer facility at the National Science Foundation, and meeting with physicists and the editor of an electronics magazine. Today, he’s retired but has a basement “play area,” which includes a machine shop and electronics set-up. He still meets with a group of his old co-workers for lunch once a month, one of whom is a physicist who wants to use a high-vacuum system for research on quantum physics. As he says, “I just so happen to have a high-vacuum system, so I’m trying to get it up and running. I haven’t used it in five to ten years.”
Ted Hoff (center) with Intel Science Talent Search 2015 alumni, from left to right: Anvita Gupta, Brandon Cui, Crystal Zheng, Steven Wang, Augustine Chemparathy, and Valerie Ding
Hoff originally started out building radios from free kits you could send away for and then moved on to buying materials from surplus stores for his experiments. His uncle, a chemical engineer, would also give him old chemistry books and a subscription to science magazines. “I always found science to be so much fun. When you learn chemistry and electronics, you can get Mother Nature to do what you want – that’s the joy of science.”
Another attendee was Shreya Ramachandran of Freemont, CA, a 2015 Broadcom MASTERS semifinalist. Shreya, now in the seventh grade, entered the Broadcom MASTERS with a project on how soapy, re-used water affected plants in hopes to help with the drought in California. This year, she is doing a continuation of her original project. She says, “Before kids weren’t that excited about the science fair, and now they are into it and really thinking about projects they like. Broadcom MASTERS really inspired my whole school.”
James Roney, a 2014 finalist, says his favorite moment at Broadcom MASTERS was the chance to meet President Obama. He also “loved the challenges and working through problems with my team.” Roney spent the summer in a lab a UC- Santa Barbara studying transcription factors.
Keoni Gandall, a 2013 Broadcom MASTERS finalist, also said his favorite moment was when President Obama came out of the Oval Office and said hello, as well as the dance party held on the last night for the finalists. Now a junior in high school, Gandall has been working at the University of California- Irvine trying to develop an easy way to transform mitochondria.
Nilay Sawant, Broadcom MASTERS 2011 and 2012 semifinalist, attended the reception with his sister, an Intel ISEF student observer in 2008. Sawant entered Broadcom MASTERS with a project that required lots of titrations. He says, “it was a lot of work, but I had fun doing it. And I realized I was really interested in chemisty.” Last year, he worked on creating a robot that could help find survivors in disaster situations, and this year he is working on an app that will help people find available parking spots.