Three Palo Alto students will be among 15 teens competing this weekend in regional finals of the 2011-12 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.
The students are among 96 national finalists named by Siemens last month from among 2,436 original entrants to the contest, which has both individual and team categories.
Helen Jiang of Gunn has teamed up with Jeffrey Ling of Palo Alto High School on a project to use data analysis to help identify premature infants who are at greatest risk for severe necrotizing enterocolitis, a gastrointestinal disease.
Charles Liu of Gunn has teamed with Johnny Ho of San Jose's Lynnbrook High School on a project using data integration to improve aerial imaging following a disaster, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Liu, a sophomore at Gunn, says he hopes to follow in Steve Jobs' footsteps, leading a company that revolutionizes an aspect of technology.
"I love programming," he said. "Image processing provides a great platform because it is so versatile and has such a great potential for impact."
Liu and Ho are working under the direction of Liu's father, engineer Yajun Liu. Liu's older brother, Andrew, a 2011 Gunn graduate now enrolled at Harvard University, earned a $20,000 scholarship in last year's Siemens contest for a bioinformatics project focused on organ rejection.
Ling and Jiang are working under the direction of Stanford University pediatric surgeon Karl Sylvester to integrate demographic, clinical and molecular-based classifiers to improve neonatal care.
"I love how the real world is incorporated into statistics," said Jiang, a Gunn junior.
Ling, a junior at Paly, said, "I was interested in the problems of data analysis and data mining because of their connections to mathematics."
The three Palo Alto students represent two of the five two-member teams presenting their work in the Region 1 finals at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena this weekend. An additional five students are competing with individual projects.
Winners of the six regional events will advance to national finals in Washington, D.C. in December, where $500,000 in scholarships will be awarded, including two top prizes of $100,000.
An additional five Palo Alto students were among the 317 semi-finalists named in this year's Siemens competition. They are Karine Hsu of Paly; and Nikhil Kumar, Divya Saini, Jean Wang and Rachel Weissman-Tsukamoto of Gunn.
Students selected for the Region 1 finals come from California, Texas and Hawaii and include Bay Area students from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, Monta Vista High School in Cupertino and The Harker School in San Jose.