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Winners pose for a group photo.

By Carol Graham

With more than 450 projects entered in the 2018 Synopsys Alameda County Science & Engineering Fair, the competition was thrilling and fierce.

“It is so exciting to hear the students’ stories and watch their faces light up as they explain their projects and results,” said fair Co-Director Suzette Takei.

The 7th annual Synopsys Alameda County Science & Engineering Fair (ACSEF) took place March 17 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. It was followed by an awards ceremony on March 28 at Chabot College in Hayward. The fair is open to all Alameda County students in grades 6-12.

Of the nine High School Grand Award Winners, five are Tri-Valley students.

Amador Valley High School (Pleasanton) students Shiladitya Dutta, Rishik Reddy and Parth Saxena wowed judges with their project, “VoiceEDx: A Novel, Multi-Disease Diagnostic Platform Utilizing an Accurate, Expandable Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine through Voice-Based Classification for an Early, Low-Cost Detection of Disease.” Last year, the team created accurate, low-cost, machine-learning algorithms to diagnose and monitor Parkinson’s disease by detecting dysphonic features. This year’s project expanded to include 14 other diseases, with greater than 90% accuracy after testing more than 7,000 voice samples.

Granada High School (Livermore) student Erika Yang presented “Fabricating a Novel Ultrasensitive Biosensor with 10 nm Periodic Line Channel Created by Directed Self-Assembly of Block Copolymer,” in which she adapted a highly-complex chemistry application for disease diagnosis.

Amador Valley High School student Sruthi Kalavacherla’s project, “An Effective Peptide Vaccine Against the Zika Virus,” sought a vaccine to prevent the spread of the Zika virus in humans. Her unique approach successfully passed all applied computer-modeling tests.

Additional winners are American High School (Fremont) students Rohan Arora, Venkat Krishnan and Anil Tolwani who presented “Micro-Telemetry Device to Monitor and Analyze Lab Mice Activity for Researchers”; and, also from American, Arvind Muruganantham who presented “Regulation of Endothelial Cell-Specific Molecule 1 (Esm-1) Implications in Diabetes and Cancer.”

The high schoolers will advance to compete in the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), the largest pre-college scientific research event in the world, with more than 1,500 students from some 70 countries and territories competing for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips and grand prizes amounting to more than $4 million. The Intel ISEF takes place May 13-18 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the winners’ trips (airfare, transportation and lodging) are fully funded.

In addition, a number of high school students will move on to the California Science & Engineering Fair, which takes place April 23-24 in Los Angeles. They are: Jonathan Ko, Abhi Upadhyay, James Wang, Ramya Ayyagari, Mallika Pajjuri, Desiree Ho, Shreya Ramachandran, Anthony Zhou, Kevin Chen, Saurabh Narain, Elaine Chan, Peter Wu, Shawn Zhang, Aadi Duggal, Rishabh Lenka, Adrian Liu, William Olsen, Garrett Takei and Hannah Edge.

Synopsys ACSEF Middle School Grand Prize Winners are Thoya Raman from Thornton Junior High School (Fremont) who presented “Enhancing the Durability of Natural Dyes”; Rohan Karunaratne from Stratford School (Fremont) who presented “Real Time Tactile Image Generator for the Blind and Visually Impaired”; and Espen Slettnes from Abel Academy Homeschool Program who presented “Minimal Embedding Dimensions of Rectangle k-Visibility Graphs.”

The middle schoolers will receive fully-funded trips to the California Science & Engineering Fair, April 23-24, in Los Angeles.

Additional Alameda County representatives at the state level will be: Amanvir Parhar, Anakha Ganesh, Tanisha Jha, Vishnu Portharaju, Mihika Balaji, Jack Connor, Tazio Oka, Rahul Ravi and Maya Basu.

Synopsys ACSEF also nominated 58 students to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars), the premier science and engineering competition for middle school students. It takes place in Washington, D.C., in October.

The event was sponsored by the Synopsys Outreach Foundation, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oracle, Chevron, Professional Engineers in California Government, Sandia National Laboratory, Alameda County Water and Wastewater Agencies, and Galaxy Press. Synopsys Alameda County Science & Engineering Fair founding director Patti Carothers and her co-director Suzette Takei say that they are incredibly proud to lead and support the next generation of scientists and engineers. “It’s so exciting to hear the student’s stories and watch their faces light up as they explain their project and results,” stated Suzette.

To learn more, visit acsef.org.