Seventh grader Drew Becker of Rocky Mountain Middle School in Heber City, Utah traded his backpack and sneakers for a suit and tie last month as he competed as a national finalist in the Broadcom MASTERS Science and Engineering Competition in Washington, D.C. Becker entered the competition after being recognized by the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair (CUSEF) for his award-winning project, “Fingerprinting Oil Wells.”
CUSEF is a science competition for students supported by BYU’s McKay School of Education and the BYU–Public School Partnership. The annual event hosts over 850 students from grades 5–12 who have been selected by their schools to compete with others from the Alpine, Jordan, Nebo, Provo and Wasatch school districts, including charter schools and home schools within these districts’ boundaries.
Becker was selected as one of 30 Broadcom MASTERS finalists from among 300 semifinalists nationwide and 1,695 applicants in 43 states, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. As required of all nominees, he entered the competition by completing an application explaining his science project and demonstrating his use of STEM principles—science, technology, engineering, and math—in the development and presentation of his project.
Becker traveled to the nation’s capital on an all-expense-paid trip to compete for more than $60,000 in awards. While he didn’t win the grand prize, during his trip he had the opportunity to visit historical sites, take part in an interactive programming session with a Broadcom employee, and even meet President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
As a part of the competition, Becker showcased his project for the public and competed in a team with other finalists to complete rigorous hands-on STEM activities.
“Now that the science fair for the 2012–2013 year is over, I really want to do another science experiment and would encourage others to do the same,” Becker said. “This experience really opened my eyes to the many careers in the science field.”
CUSEF offers a multitude of opportunities for budding science enthusiasts such as one-on-one mentoring, cash prizes, and university scholarships. Award-winning CUSEF participants may also go on to compete in prestigious national competitions including the Broadcom MASTERS competition.
Individuals wanting to learn more about the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair or those interested in sponsoring an event or participating in the fair may visit cusef.byu.edu.