Computer chip manufacturer Intel Corp. is the new sponsor of the prestigious Science Talent Search, a national competition for high school seniors. Intel succeeds Westinghouse Corp., which, after restructuring itself as a media conglomerate, announced last December that it would no longer support the competition.
Launched in 1942, the talent search is the oldest high school science competition in the world and has been run since its inception by Science Service, a nonprofit organization. About 1700 students apply each year, and the top 40 are selected as finalists. Ten receive college scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $40,000. Five finalists have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.
After Westinghouse pulled out, Science Service received 76 offers from potential sponsors. That was "a great surprise," says Ann Korando, Science Service's director of development and public affairs. Westinghouse, the sole sponsor, had been contributing about $650,000 a year to the competition, including the scholarships, judging, and permanent staff.
Intel says it will up the scholarship fund more than 60%, to $330,000. The company also plans to promote the competition on the Internet and give prospective entrants greater access to research resources at colleges and universities. "It is critical that we encourage students' spirit of discovery and enthusiasm from their earliest days in school," according to a statement by Craig Barrett, Intel's president and chief operating officer.