Two ORHS teams compete in Siemens Competition this week

Two student teams from Oak Ridge High School will compete this week in the regional finals for the prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology.

The two teams include James Andress and A.J. Toth, and Kyoung-A Cho and Samantha Wang. The students worked with mentors at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop computer programs to help find protein mutations that suppress cancer and evaluate rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

“We were excited by the potential for machine learning to advance pharmaceutical development,” Andress said in a press release.

“My favorite part of working on this project was realizing that I could program, which I didn’t think I could do,” Wang said.

The two teams will compete in the regional finals at Georgia Institute of Technology on Friday and Saturday. A total of 93 students from 25 states are competing in six regional finals from California to Massachusetts this month.

The Siemens Competition is considered the nation’s premier research competition for high school students.

“These students have invested time, energy, and talent in tackling challenging scientific research at a young age,” Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, Siemens Foundation president, said in a recent press release. “The recognition they have won today demonstrates that engagement in STEM is an investment well worth making.”

The Siemens Competition awards one $3,000 prize to an individual and one $6,000 prize to a team at each regional competition. Winners of the regional events advance to the national finals at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., from Dec. 1-4, when $500,000 in scholarships will be awarded, including two top prizes of $100,000.

The Siemens Foundation said there were also 322 semifinalists announced this year. Local regional semifinalists included John Caughman III, Megan Kelly, and Patrick Williams.

The Siemens Foundation said 2,255 students from across the country participated in this year’s competition with a total of 1,504 projects.

Cathy Toth, mother of A.J. Toth, said Oak Ridge has won at nationals twice since 2008.

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