Sharmi’s Science success


Photo Credit: Zachary Pereira

Competing at ISEF, Sharmi Shah poses with her award winning project.

This past May, Junior Sharmi Shah competed in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh.  Sharmi was just one of almost 1,800 students from 81 different countries presenting her research.

ISEF has been around form a long time, starting back in 1950. Students compete at smaller regional science fairs across the country, with the hope of being chosen for the event.  ISEF allows students to compete with their research for about four million dollars in scholarships and awards. Sharmi, along with the other Science Research students took part in the North Jersey Regional Science Fair (NJRSF). Making the event was a complete surprise to Shah. ” The NJRSF only takes five projects to ISEF each year. So after they called five projects as finalists, I believed I didn’t make it. This year, they actually decided to take six projects so I was shocked when they called my project too! ”

Mr. James Danch, Colonia’s head of Science Research,  was also very proud. “I knew she had been selected as an ISEF finalist (one of the top 10 projects in the North Jersey Regional Science Fair) but that only 5 or 6 of those projects would be chosen  for ISEF. In the history of Colonia’s participation in the North Jersey Regional Science Fair since 2001, only 11 students before Sharmi had been selected as finalists and out of those, only 3 were selected to attend ISEF. Needless to say I was very proud of her.

Shah’s project involved laser microphones, a type of surveillance device, that use lasers and vibrations in windows to detect sound, or eavesdrop. Shah’s goal was to defend against the laser by creating a coating that would scatter the laser’s signal and be transparent as well. Mr. Danch noticed the potential of her project right away.  “I knew that Sharmi’s project could go far right from when she began working on it freshman year. But I knew it would take a few years for it to get to the level that would be considered an ISEF finalist.”

Needless to say, the time paid off as Shah took fourth place in her category out of over 80 other students.  Shah’s project also received awards from the Accoustic Society of America, the National Security Agency and the US Air force. Such a feat, according to Mr. Danch, unmatched by any previous Colonia ISEF attendee.  In addition to the competition, Shah also got to meet students from around the world  as well as share her work with professional scientists. There is no doubt  that Shah enjoyed her time at ISEF. “It was an incredible experience. It was a week filled with meeting new people. There was so much to learn and for all the days except judging, they had activities planned for us. The awards ceremonies were also a surreal experience. I can’t believe that I won a bunch of awards on an international scale.”

Colonia is very proud of all that Sharmi has recently achieved. We wish her the best of luck in all her future goal and endeavors.