Indian Americans Account for Nearly One-Third of 2016 Siemens Competition Regional Finalists

The Siemens Foundation Oct. 19 announced regional finalists for the 2016 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, with Indian Americans comprising nearly one-third of those named.

California and Texas accounted for the highest Indian American representation, with five students coming from each state.

Among the Californians were Anika Cheerla and Nikhil Cheerla from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Rajiv Movva and Manan Shah from The Harker School in San Jose, and Arushi Sahaj from Menlo School in Atherton.

Adhya Beesam and Shriya Beesam of Plano East Senior High School, Prateek Kalakuntla from Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science in Denton, Saumya Rawat from the School of Science and Engineering in Dallas, and Kavita Selva from Clear Lake High School in Houston were the finalists who hail from Texas.

Massachusetts produced the next largest number of Indian American finalists with four. Among them were Hari Kothapalli from Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Shiva Mudide from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Veda Murthy from Lexington High School, and Amir Siraj from Brookline High School.

North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois each churned out two Indian American finalists. Nimisha Pant and Nikhil Reddy represent North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham; Mark Raj and Ruchi Sumanasekera are from DuPont Manual High School in Louisville, Ky.; Ketan Agrawal from Columbus Academy in Gahanna and Dhweeja Dasarathy from Hawken School in Gates Mills are from Ohio; and Pranav Sivakumar and Sushil Upadhyayula are from Aurora-based Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

Other Indian American finalists include Kailash Raman from Sandra Day O’Connor High School in Phoenix, Ariz.; Abhinav Ramkumar from Carmel High School in Indiana; Ankur Khanna from Caddo Parish Magnet High School in Shreveport, La.; Shivani Konduru from Troy High School in Michigan; Nishita Sinha from Chatham High School in New Jersey; Nikhil Saggi from Syosset High School in New York; Vineet Edupuganti from Portland-based Oregon Episcopal School, and Sagar Maheshwari from Unionville High School in Kennet Square, Pa.

All told, the Siemens Foundation named 96 regional finalists from 25 states. New York had the most finalists overall with 15. California had the next largest number with 13.

The finalists, chosen from a group of nearly 500 semifinalists and more than 1,600 submissions total nationwide, will now vie for college scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 and what is considered one of the most prestigious science honors awarded to a high school student in the country.

“Every year, I look forward to seeing whether this will be the year when we’ll see a project that will lead to developing the cure for cancer – or identify tomorrow’s coolest technology,” said Siemens Foundation chief executive officer David Etzwiler in a statement. “We congratulate the regional finalists on their accomplishments and wish them luck in the next phase of the competition.”

Launched in 1999 by the Siemens Foundation, the competition — administered by Discovery Education — was created to increase access to higher education for students who are gifted in STEM and is based on the culture of innovation, research and educational support.

The goal is to recognize and hopefully build a strong pipeline for the nation’s most promising scientists, engineers and mathematicians, the foundation said.

Next up for the regional finalists are a series of six regional competitions over a span of three weekends in November: Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 at MIT and Georgia Tech, Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas at Austin, and Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 at the California Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University.

Winners of the regional events will then advance to the national finals at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., from Dec. 5 through Dec. 6, with $500,000 in scholarships being doled out, two of which are $100,000 each.


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