Two Hillcrest High students known locally for their scientific prowess made waves across the globe at the recent International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. Brandon Cui and Bovey Rao, both juniors at Hillcrest, received high honors and special awards for their projects at the ISEF, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.
Cui won third place in the category of engineering with his project, “Demonstration and Characterization of Split Ring Resonators as Terahertz Waveguides.” He also received a full scholarship to ASU and a $2,500 research grant for his efforts.
Rao won special recognition at the fair as a chosen recipient of a full scholarship to attend Drexel University after he graduates. Drexel is recognized for its focus on experiential learning, its commitment to cutting-edge academic technology and its “growing enterprise of use-inspired research,” according to a school statement on the ISEF web page.
Rao and Cui faced competition from more than 1,700 high school students from over 70 countries, regions and territories from around the world at the fair.
Cui’s accomplishment comes on the heels of winning an $80,000 scholarship and the Grand Prize at the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair with his terahertz project. His project also received special recognition from the U.S. Metric Association. Previous to his work on this project, as a student at Midvale Middle School, Cui won recognition from The International Sustainable World Energy Engineering Environment Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) for a separate piece of research that used a banana peel as a possible biosorbent for sequestering heavy metals from wastewater. Cui also achieved a perfect score on the SAT math subject test, and he is part of the Hillcrest Math Team, which won the 5A State Championship at the Utah State Mathematics Contest.
Rao also won an $80,000 scholarship and Grand Prize at the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair for his project, “Investigation of Different Degradation Treatments on Pesticide Contaminated Water.” His project netted the Utah Stockholm Water Prize from the Water Environment Association of Utah. The Association will be sponsoring Rao at a national competition in Virginia in June. Rao also achieved a perfect score on the SAT math test and is part of Hillcrest’s state championship-winning Math Team.
The ISEF is administered by the Society for Science and the Public, a nonprofit membership organization “dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education,” according to the society’s web site. The society has owned and facilitated the competition since its beginning in 1950 as the National Science Fair.