Sri Lankan students win big at Intel ISEF in USA
Pipunika and Nipun Silva, a team of siblings from De Mazenod College, win special award for their project helping the blind and visually impaired
Liyanadura Pipunika Vimanthi Silva and Liyanadura Nipun Kavishka Silva from De mazenod College, Sri Lanka were winners of a team second award in the computer science category, winning US$400 for each team member from the IEEE Computer Society for their project entitled ‘NP System’ – a computer program for blind and visually impaired people at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science and the Public.
The NP System is a software program that assists blind and visually impaired individuals use computers by providing voice instructions. The program can assist with a variety of tasks such as guiding the user through the basic functions of a computer including sending an email, crafting a word document, analysing images and providing verbal descriptions and responding to audio commands by the user.
The winning team was accompanied by Joseph Lakshman Geramunu Nonis, a teacher from DeMazenod College. The duo, along with two other Lankan students – Chathura Saman Kumara from Pinnawala Central College, Rambukkana and Maleen Wijeyaratne from Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala, represented Sri Lanka after winning the Sri Lankan Science and Engineering Fair organised by the Ministry of Education, National Science Foundation, Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka and Intel Sri Lanka, last December.
“I congratulate Pipunika and Nipun for competing in an international arena with a large number of competitors from around the world and emerging victorious.
Their project will no doubt be an innovative addition to the field of NP Systems, and also be a great innovation for the blind and visually impaired,” said Intel Sri Lanka Country Manager Indika de Zoysa, adding, “I also congratulate the other two students who represented Sri Lanka at the contest, for making it into the final round and competing at ISEF.”
This year, more than 1,500 young scientists were chosen to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. They were selected from 446 affiliate fairs in approximately 70 countries, regions and territories. In addition to the winners mentioned above, more than 400 finalists received awards and prizes for their groundbreaking work. Awards included 17 ‘Best of Category’ winners who each received a $5,000 prize. The Intel Foundation also awarded a $1,000 grant to each winner’s school and to the affiliated fair they represent.
The overall winner of ISEF 2012 was Jack Andraka, 15, of Crownsville, USA, Nicholas Schiefer, 17, of Pickering, Ontario, Canada and Ari Dyckovsky, 18, of Leesburg, Va, USA. Andraka was received the Gordon E. Moore Award, named in honor of Intel co-founder and retired chairman and CEO of $75,000, for his new method to detect pancreatic cancer. Two other students, Nicholas Schiefer, 17, of Pickering, Ontario, Canada and Ari Dyckovsky, 18, of Leesburg, Va, USA., each received the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of $50,000. Schiefer investigated what he calls “microsearch,” or the ability to search the fastest-growing information medium: small amounts of content, such as tweets and Facebook status updates and Dyckovsky investigated the science of quantum teleportation.
“We support the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair because we know that math and science are imperative to future global growth,” said Intel Foundation Executive Director Wendy Hawkins. “This competition encourages millions of students to engage their skills for innovation and develop promising solutions for global challenges.”
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair includes some of the most promising rising student entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists from around the world. Finalists are selected annually from hundreds of affiliated fairs. Their projects are then evaluated onsite by more than 1,200 judges from nearly every scientific discipline, each with a Ph.D. or the equivalent of six years of related professional experience in one of the scientific disciplines.