Past contestants reflect on Siemens experience as competition ends

May 30, 2018 — by Allen Chen and Jeffrey Xu

As senior Sohini Kar added the last few touches to her highly technical explanation about her mathematics-based research project for the regional finalist Siemens science competition last year, she never imagined that she would be preparing for the last Siemens science fair competition ever.

After Kar was named a finalist and seniors Chengzi Guo and Andrew Zheng were named semifinalists for Siemens in late 2017, the announcement was made that the competition would be discontinued.

On Feb. 1, after 19 annual contests, the Siemens Foundation formally announced that the 2017 competition was its last. The competition, which drew in over 28,000 young researchers since its inception, was one of the most popular high school science fairs.

According to a press release from the official Siemens Foundation website, the decision was based on the Siemens Foundation’s Board of Directors’ belief that the investments made in the competition could serve students more effectively through other initiatives. The website also said that more information about future programs would be released later in the year.

Kar devoted much of her junior year and summer toward preparing for Siemens and hopes that the its funds will go to other good causes.

I'm sad about it because I think it was a great way to encourage student participation in scientific research,” she said.

Guo also participated last year in the Siemens science fair after doing her research on using adeno-associated viruses as vectors for gene therapy in the summer. On top of the convenient timing of the fall deadline, which took place right after her summer research, she said she really enjoyed the simplicity of the competition’s format.

“Unlike Regeneron [another science competition], which requires several supplemental essays, Siemens judges purely based on the merit of the research paper,” Guo said. “So I regret that Siemens has stopped hosting[their competition.”

Kar said that despite the ending of a major science competition, there are still many opportunities for students to do scientific research.

“I think it’s a really good thing that Siemens existed and I'm really sad to see it go,” Kar said. “But I hope that students will take advantage of other competitions like the Google science fair. Just because Siemens is gone doesn't mean there aren't any more opportunities, and I hope people keep doing research.”