EngineerGirl Announces 2020 Writing Contest Winners


Tue, May 19, 2020

Washington, DC, May 19, 2020 —

The National Academy of Engineering today announced the winners of its 2020 EngineerGirl writing competition. This year’s contest asked students in grades three to 12 to write about a 20-year space journey to a new home outside our solar system. The passengers, aged 2 to 50, have access to books and other resources during their travels; there are many are experts in different fields onboard; and everyone will need education and training. Prizes were awarded to students based on grade level.

“This year’s writing contest allowed students to use their creativity and imagination to show the vital need of engineering in human space exploration,” said NAE President John L. Anderson. “Congratulations to all of our 2020 winners.”

Among third- to fifth-grade students, Kaya Herr, a fifth-grader at Poolesville Elementary School in Poolesville, Maryland, placed first for her essay about a girl engineering a transportation vehicle with the help of a team. Sixth-grader Asha Spitzer from Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California, won first place among entries from grades six to eight for her essay about a girl who creates specialized prosthetics to adapt on her new planet’s rocky terrain. Among ninth- to 12th-graders, Emerson Utgaard, a 10th-grader at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego placed first for her essay about a young girl who uses her “engineering from nature” class training to come up with a creative solution to fix punctured fuel tanks on her spacecraft. 

The 2020 EngineerGirl writing contest was sponsored by Chevron Corp. and the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology, and Science. Awards are $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place. Certificates are given for honorable mentions. Additional winners are listed below.


Grades three to five:

• Second Place: Sophia Hofmann, in fourth grade at Sarah Starkweather Elementary for “The Journey to a New World”

• Third Place: Emilee Colton, in fifth grade at Ivy Hill Elementary in Arlington Heights, Illinois for “Emeralda”

• Honorable Mention: K. Davis, in third grade in New York for “A Colorful Problem”

• Honorable Mention: Brynley Drozd, in third grade in Hampstead, North Carolina for “Jordan’s Dream”


Grades six to eight:

• Second Place: Riya Shah, in eighth grade for “The Gravity Chamber”

• Third Place: Manya, in seventh grade at Ralston Middle School for “Food Emergency”

• Honorable Mention: Iris Snaith, in seventh grade in Prattsburgh, New York for “A New Type of Warmth”


Grades nine to 12:

• Second Place: Sashrika Pandey, in 12th grade at Irvington High School in Fremont, California for “Spinning Silk”

• Third Place: Allyson Kang, in 11th grade at Davis Senior High School in Davis, California for “Adaptation and Specialization”

• Honorable Mention: Caroline Dinh, in 11th grade at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland for “All Hands on Deck”

• Honorable Mention: Jessica Doss, at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas for “Eighteen Years of Error”


EngineerGirl is designed for girls in elementary through high school and offers information about various engineering fields and careers, answers to questions, interviews of engineers, and other resources on engineering. Surveys of contest participants indicate that 40 percent of girls say they are more likely to consider an engineering career after writing their essay. EngineerGirl is part of the NAE’s ongoing effort to increase the diversity of the engineering workforce.

The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science, technology, and health.

Brandon  Green
Contact Brandon Green
Communications/Media Specialist
National Academy of Engineering
Randy  Atkins
Contact Randy Atkins
Director of Communications/Media Relations
National Academy of Engineering