Research on Robot Navigation and Mathematics Pays Off for Texas and Massachusetts Students With Siemens Competition Regional Win

     Research on Robot Navigation and Mathematics Pays Off for Texas and
Massachusetts Students With Siemens Competition Regional Win at The University
                              of Texas at Austin

Young Scientists Gain Opportunity to Shine on National Stage

Kensen Shi of College Station, Texas, Wins Top Individual Prize; Jonathan
Tidor and Rohil Prasad of Lexington, Massachusetts, Win Top Team Prize

PR Newswire

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 3, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Months of dedication and hard work
in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) paid off tonight for three
students named National Finalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science
& Technology, the nation's premier research competition. A new method to help
robots navigate in space earned top honors and the $3,000 Individual
scholarship for Kensen Shi of College Station, Texas. Mathematics research
with potential applications in nanotechnology won the $6,000 Team scholarship
for Jonathan Tidor and Rohil Prasad of Lexington, Massachusetts.

The students presented their research this weekend to a panel of judges from
The University of Texas at Austin, host of the Region 2 Finals. They are now
invited to present their work on a national stage at the National Finals in
Washington, DC, December 1-4, 2012, where $500,000 in scholarships will be
awarded, including two top prizes of $100,000. The Siemens Competition, a
signature program of the Siemens Foundation, is administered by the College

"These students have invested time, energy and talent in tackling challenging
scientific research at a young age," said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, president of
the Siemens Foundation. "The recognition they have won today demonstrates
that engagement in STEM is an investment well worth making."

The Winning Individual

Kensen Shi, a senior at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station,
Texas, won the individual category and a $3,000 college scholarship for his
computer science project entitled, Lazy Toggle PRM: A Single-Query Approach to
Motion Planning.

"Robots in the future will assist in many tasks, such as search-and-rescue
missions, assembly lines and even space exploration," explained competition
judge Dr. Inderjit Dhillon, Professor of Computer Sciences at The University
of Texas at Austin. "Navigating in space riddled with obstacles can be highly
complex. This student's project develops a new method for robot navigation
that is faster and more effective for certain kinds of obstacles. Mr. Shi did
an incredible job in developing an algorithm, implementing it, and
experimentally verifying that it was highly effective in various
environments. This work is at the level of a strong and independent graduate

Mr. Shi's passion for computer science led him to approach several computer
science professors at Texas A&M University to find a mentor for his research.
Dr. Nancy Amato invited him to join her Parasol Laboratory, which focuses on
the motion planning problem. "The most challenging aspect of my project was
figuring out how I could implement my proposed algorithm to work with the
thousands of lines of existing code in the lab's Motion Planning Library," Mr.
Shi said.

Mr. Shi has won honors in a variety of mathematics and science competitions.
As Texas American Regional Mathematics League Gold Team captain, he led his
team to 13th place nationally. He placed 21st nationally in the USA Computing
Olympiad Gold Division and was a US National Chemistry Olympiad finalist. He
is also an accomplished pianist, having won numerous awards in the Houston
Forum Young Artists Piano Competition. Mr. Shi aspires to become a professor
and researcher in computer science.

The Winning Team

Jonathan Tidor and Rohil Prasad, juniors at Lexington High School in
Lexington, Massachusetts, won the team category and will share a $6,000
scholarship for their mathematics project entitled, New Results in Staged
Self-Assembly of Wang Tiles.

"The team explored self-assembly, the spontaneous assembly of complex
structures from a collection of basic shapes," said competition judge Dr.
Cristina Caputo, Lecturer, Department of Mathematics, The University of Texas
at Austin. "They found optimal ways to create systems of particles that
assemble themselves into a wide variety of structures. Their results could
have real-world applications in nanotechnology and DNA computing. This team's
project incorporates math, science and technology, and we are happy to send
them to the Nationals."

Mr. Tidor is captain of the math team and Science Bowl team at his high
school. Outside of academics, he enjoys playing the piano. He first became
interested in math because of his brother. "In elementary school I couldn't
wait to be older so that I could do all the cool math that he was doing," he
said. Mr. Tidor expects to pursue a career related to mathematics or

Mr. Prasad is a member of the Science Bowl team and volunteers with his middle
school's math team. He is also a black belt in Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do.
Mr. Prasad aspires to work in a mathematics-related field. "I enjoy the
intense problem solving aspects of it, in addition to how beautiful many
things are in mathematics," he said. The team's mentor on their project was
Jesse Geneson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Regional Finalists

The remaining regional finalists each received a $1,000 scholarship. Regional
Finalists in the individual category were:

  oHenry Lin, Caddo Parish Magnet High School, Shreveport, Louisiana
  oStanley Palasek, Sonoran Science Academy, Tucson, Arizona
  oDiana Ruan, Bellaire Senior High School, Bellaire, Texas
  oLouis Tao, Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, Natchitoches,

Team Regional Finalists were:

  oRavi Jagadeesan, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, and Nihal
    Gowravaram, Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton, Massachusetts
  oAvira Som, Cypress Falls High School, Houston, Texas, and Benjamin Tu,
    Clements High School, Sugar Land, Texas
  oJesse Zhang, Fairview High School, Boulder, Colorado, and Elaine Lin,
    Seminole High School, Sanford, Florida
  oZiling Zhou, Belmont High School, Belmont, Massachusetts, and William
    Kuszmaul, Lexington High School, Lexington, Massachusetts

The Siemens Competition
Launched in 1998, the Siemens Competition is the nation's premier science
research competition for high school students. 2,255 students registered to
enter the Siemens Competition this year for a total 1,504 projects submitted.
323 students were named semifinalists and 93 were named regional finalists,
representing 25 states. Entries are judged at the regional level by esteemed
scientists at six leading research universities which host the regional
competitions: California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University,
Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
University of Notre Dame and The University of Texas at Austin.

Follow us on the road to the Siemens Competition: Follow us on Twitter
@SFoundation (#SiemensComp) and like us on Facebook at SiemensFoundation.
Then visit at 9:30am EST on December 4 for a live
webcast of the National Finalist Awards Presentation.

The Siemens Foundation
The Siemens Foundation provides more than $7 million annually in support of
educational initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and
mathematics (STEM) in the United States. Its signature programs include the
Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, Siemens Awards for Advanced
Placement, and The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, which encourages
K-12 students to develop innovative green solutions for environmental issues.
By supporting outstanding students today, and recognizing the teachers and
schools that inspire their excellence, the Foundation helps nurture tomorrow's
scientists and engineers. The Foundation's mission is based on the culture of
innovation, research and educational support that is the hallmark of Siemens'
U.S. companies and its parent company, Siemens AG. For more information,

The College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that
connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the
College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the
membership association is made up of more than 6,000 of the world's leading
educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity
in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million
students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and
services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT^® and
the Advanced Placement Program^®. The organization also serves the education
community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and
schools. For further information, visit

Video and photos of winners available on request.

SOURCE The Siemens Foundation

Contact: Kiesha Boykins, Siemens Foundation, +1-732-321-3150,; or Joseph Giumarra, Momentum Communications Group,
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