Date:   May 18, 2009

Contacts:   Randy Atkins, Senior Media Relations Officer

202-334-1508; e-mail <>

Catherine Didion, Senior Program Officer

202-334-1737; e-mail <>

National Academy of Engineering






WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Engineering's EngineerGirl! Web site announced today the winners of the 2009 Imagine That! Engineering Innovation Essay Contest.  This national contest asked young people to consider one of three images on the EngineerGirl! site and to discuss its potential purposes and functions using engineering creativity.  More than 400 students in grades three through 12 submitted essays. 


"When President Obama recently spoke at the National Academies, he stressed the importance of innovation to enhancing our quality of life and taking on the many challenges facing our world," said NAE President Charles M. Vest.  "I am very encouraged by the wonderful ways in which the girls and boys who participated in the NAE's EngineerGirl! essay contest demonstrated the power of their imaginations, because it's the key spark necessary for any engineering innovation."


Meg Rominiecki, a fourth-grader at Cheltenham Elementary in Cheltenham, Pa., won first place among entries from third- through fifth-grade students for her essay on a machine that decreases the amount of "space junk" orbiting the Earth.  Nora Belkhayat, a seventh-grader from Francis C. Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Va., won first place among entries from sixth- through eighth-grade students for an essay on a magnetic levitation type of transportation dubbed the "spit-baller."  Qingliu Yang, a 12th-grader from Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Texas, won first place among entries from ninth- through 12th-graders for her essay about an organic light-emitting diode. 


Prizes ranged from $500 for first place to certificates for honorable mention.


Among contestants in grades three to five, Kip Williams, in fifth grade at Martha and Josh Morris Elementary in Texarkana, Texas, won second place; Sarah Logan Campbell, in third grade at Chamberlin Hill Intermediate School in Findlay, Ohio, won third place; and Lillith Bulawa, in fifth grade at Staley Upper Elementary in Rome, N.Y., received an honorable mention. 


Among contestants in grades six to eight, Nialah Wilson, in eighth grade at Central Academy Middle School in Daleville, Va., won second place; Amber Litke, a homeschooler in seventh grade in Sioux Falls, S.D., won third place; and Kate Yuhas, in eighth grade at Scranton Middle School in Brighton, Mich., received an honorable mention. 


Among contestants in grades nine to 12, Ashley Thomas, in ninth grade at Charles Wright Academy in Auburn, Wash., won second place; Mark Davis, in ninth grade at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, S.C., won third place; and Owen Wilson, in ninth grade at L.C. Bird High School in Chester, Va., was awarded an honorable mention. 


All of the winning essays are posted at <>.


EngineerGirl! is designed for middle school girls and offers information about various engineering fields and careers, as well as games, books, and other resources on engineering.  EngineerGirl! and Engineer Your Life (, a Web site for academically prepared high school girls, are part of NAE's ongoing efforts to increase the diversity of the engineering work force. 


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