Intel, the world’s second-largest producer of processors, is ending its sponsorship of the Student Talent Search competition from 2018. A company that can meet all the requirements for sponsorship as outlined by Intel will be given the sponsorship title in 2017.
The Student Talent Search is one of the oldest science competitions for high school students. Previous winners include Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and other notable members of the scientific community. Intel has sponsored the competition for the past 17 years, taking over sponsorship in 1998 from the company Westinghouse, sponsored the competition for 73 years prior. MCPS has consistently produced around a dozen semi-finalists in the competition each year, with Montgomery Blair High School having produced the most number of semi-finalists of any school. Last year, two MCPS students were named finalists in the competition.
After Intel began sponsoring the Talent Search, it brought notable changes to the competition, mainly increasing the money annually awarded to students and schools from about $200,000 to $1.6 million. The decision to end sponsorship has been puzzling due to the fact that the Talent Search costs around $6 million – less than one percent of Intel’s $55 billion revenue from last year.
“Intel’s corporate priorities have changed, so [the Society for Science & the Public (SSP)] look[s] forward to welcoming a new sponsor. Intel and SSP have been in discussions for many months, so this was not a surprise to us. We think it is a great opportunity for a new organization, corporation, or individual to step up and take the lead in supporting high school students in science research,” said Caitlin Sullivan, Program Manager of the Student Talent Search.
Teachers here in Montgomery County reacted fairly neutrally to the decision. Dr. Patricia Miller, biology teacher at Poolesville High School felt the change was “a poor PR decision from Intel as Intel has tremendous potential in inspiring young scientists. It is important for students to realize that the research they are doing is at a professional level and it is important their research is recognized.”
Nevertheless, Miller doubts the change in sponsorship will negatively affect the prestige or participation level of the competition.
Mark Curran, engineering teacher at Poolesville High School, also said the announcement was “a shock” but is confident that “there will be enough STEM outreach from the federal government that many companies will step up to sponsor this prestigious event.”
Even though Intel is ending its sponsorship of the competition, SSP will continue to run the program as it has for the past 75 years. The sponsorship change will not affect the logistics of the Talent Search. “The application and judging process [will] remain the same,” Sullivan stated.
The purpose of the Student Talent Search is to recognize students for their work and contribution to the scientific community and to provide them the opportunity to continue their research. Who sponsors the competition should not, and will not affect the students who participate.
“It is likely that the number of participants in the competition will increase in the next few years due to SSP’s outreach efforts, such as the SSP Advocates Grant program and the Intel STS Teacher Conference,” added Sullivan.
To find out more about the Student Talent Search, go to societyforscience.org. The deadline to enter this year’s competition is November 11, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Article by MoCo Student Community editor Deepti Agnihotri of Poolesville High School