Students win scholarships at International Science and Engineering Fair


A trio of local students were big winners at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.

Fayette County High freshmen Jesna Santhosh Thomas and Nathaly Rangel-Gonzalez saw their project “COVID Prevention: More Precise Contact Tracing,” honored with the NC State Engineering Summer Camp Scholarship Award.

The duo completed their science fair project for their gifted biology course. They conducted research on schools with precise contact tracing, then developed a more accurate device for monitoring student movement that is easily installable, low-cost, user-friendly, low-maintenance, and compliant with school rules and state regulations.

For their work, they were both awarded scholarships to attend the NC State Engineering Summer Camp where they will take part in a week-long experience filled with hands-on engineering challenges, learning, and research at one of the world’s top colleges of engineering and computer science.

Whitewater High’s Cayden Shaffer was also a big winner with his project “Designing and Fabricating a Vortex Aerospace Rocket Engine.”

Shaffer was 2nd place in the category Engineering Technology: Statics and Dynamics and won a $15,000 “Chief of Naval Research” scholarship from the Naval Research Academy. The Naval Science Awards Program is a U.S. Navy and Marine Corps program that encourages students to develop and retain an interest in science and engineering.

Shaffer designed a rocket engine to reduce weight, complexity, and production cost by combining design principles from vortex combustion chambers and aerospike nozzles to see if they could work on a small-scale launcher.

The Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science for over 70 years, is the world’s largest global science competition for high school. Through a global network of local, regional and national science fairs, millions of students are encouraged to explore their passion for scientific inquiry. Each spring, a group of these students is selected as finalists and offered the opportunity to compete for approximately U.S. $8 million in awards and scholarships.

— Provided by the Fayette County School System.