Report on ASA participation at 67th International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), Phoenix, AZ, May, 2016

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA), participated as a Special Awards Organization (SAO), at the Intel-sponsored International Science and Education Fair (ISEF), held in Phoenix, AZ, May 8 – 13, 2016. This event had 1700 high school students (9 – 12 grade), from more than 75 countries as finalists to present their research in different areas of pure and applied sciences. The finalists were competing for approximately US$ 4 million cash awards as well as other recognition. ASA participated as one of about 57 Special Award Organizations (SAO), to select winners in their own special area of interest, namely acoustics. Since 1978, ASA has been participating in ISEF. While presentation of SAO awards, the Acoustical Society of America stands out as the first organization on the podium!

Out of 1750 finalist reports in 22 scientific areas, a manual and electronic search was conducted to identify various projects related to acoustics. Acoustics being a broad field, specific searches with keywords related to specialized areas of physics, instrumentation and application were conducted. A total of 48 projects were identified. Searching and reviews of abstracts and project documentation enabled the number of topical acoustics-related projects to be filtered down to 14 projects. The team of four judges decided to visit each project station together, while the student presenters were absent from their posters. Based on their area of expertise and interest, the judges spent substantial time reviewing various other projects. The first debrief session on Day 1, based on the presented material and project documentation at each booth enabled a soft ranking of the projects, as well as provided a plan for in-person interviews with the short-listed students the following day. The ASA judging team interviewed each of the student researchers among the shortlisted projects. During the second debrief, in addition to verbal discussion, project notes, and additional provided documentation was considered prior to ranking the winners.

A first and second cash prize of $1,500 and $500 respectively, with additional rewards to the schools and mentors, was awarded to two teams, while certificates of honorable mention were given to three additional teams. The winner of the first prize was Kim Dae Hyun, of Pung Duck High School, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea with his project entitled, "Generation of Beat Sound of Korean Bell with a Bicycle Rim." Mr. Dae Hyun analyzed the characteristics of Korean bells vs. European bell designs and then synthesized the operation of the revered King Seong-deok, 19-ton bell to its base and beat frequencies. Through analysis he replicated the operation using a 66 cm diameter bicycle ring and designed a physical contraption to operate similar to the 2.25 m-high bell. Finally the functionality was validated with time and frequency domain measurements. The second-prize winners were Adrian Lenkeit, and Jan Mattias Schäfers, from Michael Gymnasium, Bad Munstereifel, Germany, with their project entitled, “Acoustic Microfluidics with Tiny Droplets." This duo designed piezo-based surface wave systems where they were able to demonstrate controlled oscillation and movement of droplets and bubbles. They simulated the oscillatory processes using n-body simulations, by maximizing the processing power of a high-end laptop.

Honorable Mention was awarded to three additional groups: (1) Mukund Venkatakrishnan, from duPont Manual High School, Louisville, Kentucky, entitled, "Development of the First Ever Low-Cost Open-Source Hearing Test and Hearing Aid." (2) Yiwei Song, High School Affiliated to Fudan University, Shanghai, China, “A Feasible Solution to High Frequency Loss Based on Transposing Fundamental Frequency." (3) Marie-Anne Irene de Gier, and Bram Janssen, from Atheneum College Hageveld, Heemstede, Netherlands, “The Wobble: A Sustainable Noise Barrier Consisting of Noise Absorbing Materials and a Revolutionary Shape.” Each of these projects were sophisticated with highly engaged students, who did not shy from implementing functionality by micro-controller programming, signal processing and feature optimization, field and human testing, transmission loss analysis as well as making acoustic measurements.

The ASA judging team included, Bruce Towe, PhD, Professor Emeritus, School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, Arizona State University (ASU), Julie Liss, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Speech and Hearing Science, ASU, Paul Sakion, BS, MBA, Principal Elephant Tech Consulting, and Inder Makin, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, A.T. Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine, (SOMA). Dr. Makin was Chair of the judging team and presented the awards on behalf of ASA at the SAO ceremony.

I have had the opportunity to judge this event before. The energy and high caliber of projects was impressive as earlier. To cite the sentiment of the judging group, “The quality of the student projects in acoustics was extremely high. Even more impressive was the quality of the students themselves when presenting their research. They are obviously intelligent, but also articulate, poised, professional in appearance, and accomplished presenters.” The interdisciplinary judging group enabled evaluation of a wide array of acoustics-related projects. I would encourage other ASA-members to get involved with this forum, and check out this website to get a better feel for this event. 



Inder Makin, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, Mesa, AZ