Seniors participate in the annual Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair


photo courtesy of Kirsten Hoogenakker

BSM sent five seniors, Felisha Fox, Alexa Reynders, Mikey Pupel, Ben Larson, and Spencer Sweeney, to the State Science and Engineering Fair. There they competed for a chance to qualify for the Intel ISEF.

Patrick Gallaher, Staff Writer

The annual Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair took place Sunday, April 8 through Tuesday, April 10 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center. Over 500 students were involved in the competition, including BSM seniors Ben Larson, Alexa Reynders, Mikey Pupel, Felisha Fox, and Spencer Sweeney.

Ms. Kirsten Hoogenakker, who teaches Biomedical Science and Engineering at BSM, was thrilled with the student success at the competition. Especially impressive was the fact that Larson and Reynders qualified for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair after placing top three in the State event. Their project is a small test cartridge containing a protein that would help detect the presence of a different protein found in urine that would indicate lung cancer. “I felt like we were able to do something we really liked that was also meaningful. We had a really long process, and we spent a lot of time searching for materials, but it was all worth it,” Reynders said.

Their success came as somewhat of a surprise, given the number of contestants at the event. “I was completely shocked when our names were called,” Reynders said.

For Hoogenakker, the achievement is a culmination of everything the students learned and worked toward throughout the Biomed program. “I felt like it was validation for all the hard work Biomed students put in throughout their three years in the program. Everything really builds up to this main event. It also proved that our students are doing really amazing things in science,” Hoogenakker said.

The competition, abbreviated Intel ISEF, will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from May 13 to May 19 and host roughly 1800 students from 75 countries, with $4 million in potential prize money for contestants. All expenses are covered for the trip, including travel, hotel costs, and meals. The grand prize for the best overall project is an astonishing $75,000.

Everything really builds up to this main event. It also proved that our students are doing really amazing things in science.

— Ms. Kirsten Hooganakker

Pupel and Fox collaborated on a project that aims at helping patients who struggle with injections. “We created a biomedical device that numbs and minimizes pain from a Humira injection for arthritis, while also reducing anxiety for the patient,” Pupel said.

Their project won two awards, the first called Excellence in Engineering and the second being Innovation in Engineering. They also won $1,350 in prize money to split, along with a trip to 3M Headquarters on May 4.