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SAE’s A World In Motion® Announces Winners of 2022 Chowdhury STEM Innovation Contest

Posted: April 20, 2022

Future scientists are getting their start with SAE International’s A World In Motion® (AWIM®)—and getting recognized for their efforts.

Results from the 2022 Chowdhury STEM Innovation Contest—generously sponsored by the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation through the SAE Foundation—are in, recognizing projects across a wide array of topics that present a STEM solution to a real-world issue:

  • First Place: John T., Grade 7, of Grand Blanc, Michigan, for his project “Traffic Smart”
  • Second Place: Nicole H., Grade 4, of St. Augustine, Florida, for her project “Scalable and Fertilizer-Free Energy/Self-Sufficient Carbon Neutral Aquaponics”
  • Third Place: Ephraim A., Grade 7; Zachary B., Grade 5; Arthur J., Grade 7; and Malachi J., Grade 6, of Washington, Maryland, for their project “Sustaining Landlocked Countries”

The students prevailed as the top three submissions with over 50 teams across 20 states and two countries entering their unique STEM projects. The competition, which was open to students in the United States and Canada in grades 4-8 under supervision of an adult mentor, inspired the students to get involved with STEM in different ways.

For Nicole, the STEM Innovation Contest provided a platform to pilot test an agricultural technique to help provide resources to food-insecure children with special needs, with whom she regularly volunteers. Throughout the project, she and her parent mentor, Ricardo Haragutchi, found a way to not only sustain growth through aquaponics, but apply the method on a larger scale that they plan to share with contacts from Brazil and the Philippines, where Nicole’s parents are from.

“When we started working on this project, we found there’s this whole new world that she can use a new set of skills in, and help even more children with special needs,” Ricardo said. “We were really excited for her to be recognized as a second-place winner.”

“It was a great accomplishment, and we were super happy,” Nicole added. “It was also important to learn that we make mistakes, but we keep going, and that’s how you learn.”

While Nicole’s idea came from an existing relationship, John’s inspiration struck while sitting at a traffic light with his mom and experiencing a frustration many are familiar with: wondering why, if no traffic was coming from the cross lanes, they were stuck sitting at a red light. With help from his parent mentor Girma Tewolde, a professor at Kettering University, John researched and prototyped a smart traffic device that would monitor and analyze typical traffic patterns to regulate traffic more efficiently, and as a result contribute to lowering emissions to cut car idling time down on a standard trip.

The early learning opportunity is one that will put John on a path to success, Girma shared.

“It’s important to introduce kids to STEM earlier on, especially for women and minority students who may not have this early exposure or mentors to guide them,” he said. “We’re thankful for the work SAE is doing to help with getting students exposure to STEM fields at a younger age; what SAE is doing with AWIM is really important.”

The opportunity isn’t limited to single participants or by school district lines, either. Mentor and parent Melody Jones shared that her sons, Arthur and Malachi, were able to work together and with friends Ephraim and Zachary on their project examining the use of drones to provide food and resources to landlocked countries, despite being at different grades levels and students at different schools. The ability to work together gave the students a unique learning experience.

“Being on a team really helped because it was better to gather all the parts you were working with,” Malachi said. “Whenever you were stuck or didn’t know what to do, you always had a teammate to help you or give ideas to finish the project.”

In addition to recognition for their efforts, the students earned prizes for themselves, their classrooms, and their world, including a donation to their charity of choice. The students are primed to make an impact now and in the future as they continue to explore their STEM interests.

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