Junior Sannidhi Boppana wins Honorable Mention in prestigious women’s STEM competition 

March 20, 2023 — by Natalie Chua and Sanjoli Gupta
Graphic by Leyna Chan
Boppana and her teammates’ satellite won 2nd place at the MIT BWSI CubeSat Competition in May 2022.
Sannidhi Boppana was awarded for her work in the MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute’s CubeSat competition and Synopsys Science Fair. 

Junior Sannidhi Boppana’s love for STEM comes from its analytical nature. She loves how computer science keeps her thinking and looking for solutions to complex problems. 

This love eventually translated to hard work that won her recent awards: Boppana received an Honorable Mention award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) in February for a portfolio of coding projects that she compiled over the fall semester. The main components of the portfolio consisted of projects she pursued that previously won other competitions, including the MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute CubeSat competition and the Synopsys Science Fair.

“I prefer logically analyzing to memorizing,” Boppana said. “Computer Science has always come very naturally to me just like math.”

During Synopsys, Boppana presented a poster entry on reduced precision neural networks to a panel of judges who assessed her work. In the CubeSat competition, Boppana worked with a team of five high school students to build a mini satellite. The team, which also included two other Saratoga High students — sophomore Samanvi Boppana (her sister) and junior Ameya Saund — faced multiple challenges as they advanced through rounds of the competition. 

The ultimate goal of the CubeSat contest, which took place in May 2022, was to create a satellite that’d take pictures of the ocean and detect plastic; then, it would send those images back to the ground station to let contestants know about the plastic content in a specific area. Participants presented their final designs for a sustainable satellite, along with a prototype, to a board of judges, who then chose the best design.

During the construction of the satellite, the group said that the biggest issue they ran into was coordinating times to work on their project, as all of them had busy schedules.

“In terms of the competition itself, the biggest challenge was connecting the actual satellite to the ground station because of the large distance between the two,” Boppana said.

By experimenting with different softwares, the team finally discovered a solution and went on to win second place overall. Using this competition and her previous science fair projects, Sannidhi compiled them into one mega submission that ultimately won her recognition from the NCWIT. 

“The award came as a complete surprise, and it was so unexpected I started to cry,” Boppana said. “I thought I couldn’t compare to the people applying and believed it was a long shot, so I am very grateful.”

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