Three South African learners won prizes at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the United States, the world’s largest and most prestigious high-school science fair, says the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

The Expo said the big South African winner at the fair in Phoenix, Arizona was Hritik Mitha from Johannesburg’s Bryanston High School, who received the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) second place award for innovation and development in the ‘Energy and Water’ category.

Mitha won a cash prize of US$3,000 (about R43 092,45) for a project on increasing the overall energy efficiency of solar panels by modifying standard solar panels to extract the thermal energy that would otherwise be dissipated as waste heat.

The project investigated whether a coil and magnets would generate electrical energy using wind, an efficient, renewable and free resource.

“I am happy that over a year of hard work, dedication and resilience to complete the project was recognised as worthy to win an award by an international society at Intel ISEF. It was a dream come true, and the fact that I won this award despite the hardships I faced in the past, including multiple failures, really made me proud of the resilience I maintained throughout my Eskom Expo for Young Scientists journey to get to Intel ISEF,” said Mitha.

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“The USAID special award I won stated that my project displayed innovation that had the potential to benefit the world. I therefore feel as if it would be an injustice not to do my best to execute the project on a larger scale. After experiencing the Eskom Expo International Science Fair last year and Intel ISEF this year at this junior level, I most certainly want to use my new skills and knowledge at a higher level,” Mitha added.

Other local winners included Runè Edeling from Eunice High School in the Free State and Shaziyah Laher from Nizamiye Al Azhar Institute in the Eastern Cape.

Edeling won the fourth award of USD$500 (about R7 241,42) in the ‘Physics and Astronomy’ category for her project on using dimple technology to optimise the aerodynamics of heavy motor vehicles. Laher won the fourth award in ‘Chemistry’ for her project on organic biodegradable alternatives to plastic.

Eskom Expo executive director Parthy Chetty said simply making it to the fair was a major achievement for the students.

“Winning at ISEF is about the best you can achieve on the international stage. Eskom Expo continues to provide this unique platform for our young scientists to pursue their dreams and we help them make their dreams a reality,” Chetty said.

The fair featured more than 1 800 of the top science and engineering high-school students from 80 countries and regions around the world, who competed for an array of awards in every major science and engineering category.

Author: ANA Newswire