2024 U Science Fair Youth Compete Internationally

June 26, 2024

It’s never too early to get youth involved in science and technology, and for the past 70 years, the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) has been doing exactly that.


Sierra Sun

As stated by Barb Baker, the host of this year's global event, “Each year, millions of students around the world participate in a global network of local, regional, and national science fairs, where they are encouraged to explore their passion for scientific inquiry.” These pre-college students arrive from over 75 countries, regions, and territories to compete in various STEM fields, from animal sciences to systems software, behavioral and social sciences to physics and astronomy. Such a broad scope ensures that no matter where a student’s interest may lie, they have an avenue to ambitiously pursue their goals.

Sahil Shah

The University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair (USEF) has been preparing and sending students to this prestigious event since 2003, and this year was no exception. Students from five school districts as well as charter, private and parochial schools participated at USEF March 4-7 at the Crocker Science Center where the fair had 470 projects and 592 students. Five high school students were chosen to compete on the global stage in Los Angeles at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) May 11-17, granting these students the valuable experience of viewing and presenting their work to people across the world. In addition, five more high school students were selected to compete at the Genius Olympiad in Rochester, NY June 10-15. We celebrate that their hard work has been rewarded!

Mingchaun Cheng

USEF had three finalists walk away from ISEF with awards. Aadhi Umamageswaran, Sierra Sun, and Sahil Shah all placed 4th within their categories, Aadhi focusing on animal sciences, Sahil on translational medical science, and Sierra on behavioral and social sciences. In addition, Sierra received three special awards totaling $6,500 in cash for her efforts from the American Psychological Association, the National Security Agency Research Directorate and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Aadhi Umamageswara

All five USEF finalists won awards at the Genius Olympiad competition, where projects focus on environmental issues. Arianna Vasquez, Caroline Cook and Angelina Nguyen all received Honorable Mentions and Marina Peng and Krishnam Goel received Silver Awards.



“I am so proud of these students,” says Jody Oostema, USEF’s program director since 2005.  “They have each put a lot of time and hard work into their projects over the past year and it’s wonderful to see their efforts rewarded!”


Aidan Yu

Past USEF winners have gone on to attend institutions such as Princeton University, Harvard University, and our own University of Utah. Some have gotten NASA grants to develop prototype robots for exploration of Jupiter’s moon Europa, others lead biotech companies creating protein therapeutics, and others still have joined the hunt for the ever-elusive dark matter.

The 2025 University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair takes place March 10-14, again, at the Crocker Science Center. Visit the USEF website for more information.




By Michael Jacobsen