EngineerGirl Announces 2017 “Engineering and Animals” Essay Contest Winners


Mon, May 15, 2017

Washington, DC, May 15, 2017 —

The National Academy of Engineering today announced the winners of its 2017 EngineerGirl national essay competition.  This year’s contest asked students in grades 3 to 12 to pick an animal ranked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. Students were then asked to write about how engineering might improve life for that species. Prizes were awarded to students in three categories based on grade level.

“Students’ devotion to protecting endangered animals is always inspiring to me, and their doing so through engineering, which is about solving problems of people and society, is doubly so. Congratulations to the winners!” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr.

Among 3rd- to 5th-grade students, Meera Murthy, a 5th-grader at Kingsley Montessori School in Boston, Massachusetts, placed first for her essay on building solar-powered tents for Galapagos penguins. Sixth-grader Becca Maddox, from Pizitz Middle School in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, won first place among entries from grades 6 to 8 for her essay on protecting whooping cranes from deadly collisions with power lines and wind turbines by creating a sprayable liquid rubber compound that cranes can see and avoid. Among 9th- to 12th-graders, Carolyn Frank, a 10th-grade homeschooling student of Farmington, Maine, placed first for her essay on stopping sea turtles from consuming plastic bags by creating a water-soluble plastic film that dissolves in salt water.

The 2017 EngineerGirl essay 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 3 to 5:

  • Second Place: Layla Widehofer, in 4th grade in Panama City, Panama, for “Saving Sea Turtles”
  • Third Place: Camilla Hajallie, in 5th grade at A.C.E. Academy for Scholars in Ridgewood, New York, for “Saving Asian Elephants”
  • Honorable Mention: Lila Boutin, in 3rd grade at the Davis School for Independent Study in Davis, California, for “Crop Bioengineering for Orangutan Protection”

Grades 6 to 8:

  • Second Place: Lishita Chen, in 6th grade at Sathya Sai School of Canada in Ontario, Canada, for “ ‘Modiseal’ – A New Life for Hooded Seals”
  • Third Place: Gitanjali Rao, in 6th grade at Brentwood Middle School in Brentwood, Tennessee, for “Saving Mountain Gorillas with Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics”
  • Honorable Mention: Anya Ambarish, in 7th grade at Stone Hill Middle School in Sterling, Virginia, for “Two-Step Process to Save the Greater Long-Nosed Bat”

Grades 9 to 12:

  • Second Place: Kaitlin Feit, in 11th grade at Oak Knoll School in Summit, New Jersey, for “Creating a New Destiny for Whale Sharks across the Globe”
  • Third Place: Shambhavi Ramaswamy, in 10th grade at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Arlington, Virginia, for “Using Retroviruses to Ensure Survival of the Black-Footed Ferret”
  • Honorable Mention: Sean Flanagan, in 11th grade at the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science/Worcester Polytechnic in Worcester, Massachusetts, for “The Goliath Frog”

EngineerGirl is designed for girls in elementary through high school and offers information about various engineering fields and careers, questions and answers, interviews, and other resources on engineering. Surveys of contest participants indicate that 40% 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.

Simil  Raghavan
Contact Simil Raghavan
Program Officer, EngineerGirl Program and Online Ethics Center
National Academy of Engineering
Maggie   Bartolomeo
Contact Maggie Bartolomeo
Communications/Media Associate
National Academy of Engineering