The Society for Science & the Public and Regeneron recently announced the top winners of the 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search, a science and mathematics competition for high school seniors. This year, the competition was done virtually to protect students and workers against COVID-19. Third place and $150,000 went to Brendan Crotty, 18, a homeschool student from Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The three winners were chosen from a pool of 2,000 entries, 375 finalists, and 40 semifinalists. The students were evaluated based on the scientific rigor of their projects, their problem-solving abilities, and their potential to become scientific leaders.
The prize money is essentially a scholarship that will allow Brendan to pay for his entire college education. Brendan plans to attend the Missouri University of Science and Technology. “I’m going to be studying metallurgical engineering, the study of metals and materials processing,” he said. “I want to go into metals processing and manufacturing as a career.” This could include manufacturing, processing, foundries, steel mills, or designing engine components for automotive, space, and other industries.
For his project, Brendan designed and built an efficient hybrid gas burner that could help reduce the ecological impact of industries like power generation and materials manufacturing. His specialized burner system operates at higher temperatures than current industrial burners yet emits 19 percent less polluting nitrogen dioxide gas.
“Over the last five years, I have studied combustion and burner systems for ultra-high-temperature materials processing. The main goal of my research is the reduction of pollution,” he said. To build his model, Brendan had to become proficient in computer design software, metal casting and machining. “Engineering and manufacturing has always been a passion of mine,” he said. “I am a maker and tinkerer at heart.”
“I actually started science and engineering through metalworking… I started doing blacksmithing and welding when I was 11, and it slowly evolved into other types of metalworking, and then from there I moved into the science fair and toward engineering,” he said.
Crotty said being homeschooled has given him the opportunity to further his studies. “I will say that has definitely attributed to everything I’ve done with [the] science fair, definitely more freedom to learn other things and have time to do experimentation and science projects and things like that,” he admitted. “Well, since I’m homeschooled, I pretty much spend all my free time doing metalworking.”
In addition to his scientific pursuits, the teenager has been volunteering several times a year for living history exhibits—not just demonstrating blacksmithing, but actually repairing and creating implements. He always thought it would be something fun to do ever since the first time he saw a blacksmith at a Civil War re-enactment.
Last summer Brendan became an intern at the American Foundry Group in Muskogee where he worked on a research project for the Steel Founders Society of America. This year he started working full-time as a Lead Process Engineer and CAD/CAM Programmer at CDS Machine, Inc.
In addition to his recent win, Brendan has competed and placed in several competitions over the course of his high school career, including second place in the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair; second place in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium; winning top honors in regional and state science fairs; and receiving awards from the Yale Science & Engineering Association, Ricoh Sustainable Development, the U.S. Metric Association and the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association.
About Regeneron Science Talent Search
The Regeneron Science Talent Search focuses on identifying, inspiring and engaging the nation’s most promising young scientists in the U.S. The competition celebrates the hard work and creativity of STEM students who are seeking solutions to our greatest global challenges, providing a national stage for them to present their original research ideas to leading scientists. The competition has been held since 1942 and program alumni include recipients of 11 National Medals of Science, five Breakthrough Prizes, 21 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, two Fields Medals and 13 Nobel Prizes. The Regeneron Science Talent Search 2021 application is now open through November 12, 2020. The Regeneron Science Talent Search was founded by Society for Science & the Public and is sponsored by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
About Society for Science & the Public
Society for Science & the Public is dedicated to the achievement of young scientists in independent research and to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, the Society is a nonprofit whose vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its world-class competitions, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning magazine, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire. Learn more at Society for Science & the Public.
About Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for over 30 years by physician-scientists, our unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to seven FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, all of which were homegrown in our laboratories. Regeneron believes that operating as a good corporate citizen is crucial to delivering on our mission. We approach corporate responsibility with three goals in mind: to improve the lives of people with serious diseases, to foster a culture of integrity and excellence and to build sustainable communities. Regeneron is proud to be included on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and the Civic 50 list of the most “community-minded” companies in the United States. Regeneron empowers and supports employees to give back through our volunteering, pro-bono and matching gift programs. Our most significant philanthropic commitments are in the area of science education, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search and Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.