Consol student wins Region 2 Siemens STEM Competition, $3,000 scholarship

Friday, November 9, 2012

Consol student wins Region 2 Siemens STEM Competition, $3,000 scholarship

A&M Consolidated senior Kensen Shi recently won the individual Region 2 Siemens Math, Science and Technology Competition, earning a $3,000 scholarship and a chance to win a $100,000 scholarship at the national competition.

Regarded as one of the most prestigious STEM competitions in the nation, the Siemens National Competition will take place in Washington, D.C., on December 1-4.  Individual winners from six regions will compete for the $100,000 grand prize scholarship and a total scholarship pool of $250,000.

In the regional competition, students presented their research to a panel of judges from The University of Texas at Austin.

Shi’s computer science project entitled, “Lazy Toggle PRM: A Single-Query Approach to Motion Planning,” earned him the top prize at the Region 2 competition.

"Robots in the future will assist in many tasks, such as search-and-rescue missions, assembly lines and even space exploration," explained competition judge Dr. Inderjit Dhillon, Professor of Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. "Navigating in space riddled with obstacles can be highly complex. This student's project develops a new method for robot navigation that is faster and more effective for certain kinds of obstacles. Mr. Shi did an incredible job in developing an algorithm, implementing it, and experimentally verifying that it was highly effective in various environments. This work is at the level of a strong and independent graduate student."

Shi's passion for computer science led him to approach several computer science professors at Texas A&M University to find a mentor for his research.

Dr. Nancy Amato invited him to join her Parasol Laboratory, which focuses on the motion planning problem.

“The most challenging aspect of my project was figuring out how I could implement my proposed algorithm to work with the thousands of lines of existing code in the lab's Motion Planning Library," Shi said.

Shi has won honors in a variety of mathematics and science competitions.  As Texas American Regional Mathematics League Gold Team captain, he led his team to 13th place nationally.  He placed 21st nationally in the USA Computing Olympiad Gold Division and was a US National Chemistry Olympiad finalist.  He is also an accomplished pianist, having won numerous awards in the Houston Forum Young Artists Piano Competition.  Shi aspires to become a professor and researcher in computer science.

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