Two Vancouver students win $125,000 in top prizes at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

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Two Vancouver high school students have secured the top prizes in this year’s Intel Science and Engineering Fair held in Pittsburgh this week.

17-year-old Raymond Wang, a student of St. George’s School, took home the competition’s top prize – the Gordon E. Moore Award and US$75,000 – for his research in reducing the spread of infectious diseases in an airplane by adjusting airflow.

His methods can increase fresh air in airliner cabins by over 190 per cent and reduce pathogen inhalation concentrations by as much as 55 times compared to conventional designs. To achieve this, a complete redesign of plane ventilation systems is not necessary; the design can be easily and economically incorporated in existing airplanes.

“Raymond’s work has significantly enhanced our understanding of how disease-causing pathogens travel via circulating airflow in aircraft cabins, and has also helped him to develop multiple approaches for reducing disease transmission in these types of settings,” said Scott Clary, science fair mechanics category co-chair and Lockeed Martin electromechanical engineering manager, in a release.

Wang was joined on stage by another local winner, Nicole Ticea, who won the runner-up honours of the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and US$50,000. The 16-year-old York House student is credited for her work in developing a cheap, convenient testing device to diagnose HIV infections in developing countries.

The HIV testing device is disposable, costs less than US$5.00 to produce and does not require electricity to operate.

Ticea’s work on creating the prototypes first made headlines a year ago on Vancity Buzz. The device was created with the assistance of two researchers at Simon Fraser University.

Since then, Ticea has founded her own company, which recently received a US$100,000 grant to continue developing the HIV testing kit.

Both Wang and Ticea also swept a number of other additional cash prizes, worth between US$1,000 to US$10,000 for each prize, in other science fair award categories and from American government agencies including USAID and NASA. Wang won a further US$27,200 while Ticea secured US$18,000.

A total of eleven young Canadians won various awards in this year’s science fair, including three other B.C. residents: Duncan Stothers of Vancouver, Janice Pang of Coquitlam and Ann Makosinski of Victoria.

About 1,700 students from 422 affiliate fairs in more than 75 countries competed in this year’s Intel fair. In order to participate in the prestigious event, they were required to enter into their nation’s science fair and win a qualifying position.

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