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HHS students win state STEM competition

by | Feb 20, 2023 | Education, Featured: Education

Kaizar Rangwala and Jacob Dold, two Hopkinton High School sophomores, were named state champions in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition and have advanced to the national-level competition.

The $2 million national competition for public schools in Grades 6-12 asks students to consider how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be used to create change in their communities.

Rangwala and Dold programmed an artificial intelligence (AI) construct that medical professionals can use to scan MRIs and detect brain tumors more quickly.

By having state champions, HHS earned $12,000 worth of Samsung products and classroom resources that will help the students as they complete their activity plan for the next part of the competition.

Dold explained that he and Rangwala both are interested in medicine, but their submission started with thinking about how they could help people with technology and solve a problem.

Finding the brain an interesting part of the body, the students sought to find a way technology can help radiologists and doctors locate tumors more quickly and efficiently and thereby get patients the treatment they need as soon as possible.

Rangwala explained that their work is not affiliated with a particular class or the school, but an independent project they took on based on their interests and a desire to help the community.

The process began in August with brainstorming and in subsequent months involved research and meeting and conducting interviews with health care professionals and individuals in the artificial intelligence realm.

Rangwala said the president of the National Brain Tumor Society was helpful in providing feedback about their project.

“He gave us ideas on our solutions, pointing out flaws and leading us to see the issue in different ways,” Rangwala said.

The duo also received assistance from professionals at UCLA about the radiology process and how tumors are processed.

So far, the students have submitted a 15-page written report. In-person presentations will take place at the national competition in Dallas.

AI algorithms can find small, hard-to-detect patterns of malignancies that may be missed by radiologists especially in the early stages of disease.

The typical MRI process can lead to patients having to repeat scans, undergo multiple biopsies and endure long waiting times. For low-income areas with shortages of radiologists or in large hospitals dealing with overwhelming caseloads, AI can simplify the work and provide benefits to both patients and medical professionals, according to the students.

“We have a long way to go and a lot more to do to have a system that is easy and reliable for doctors to use,” Rangwala said, “and [shows] how AI can be useful in healthcare settings.”

“It’s kind of like a base model for what can be in the future,” Dold said.

Both Rangwala and Dold also are involved with robotics and Boy Scouts. Dold also participates on the debate team and plays tennis, while Rangwala cites exercise as another hobby.

The HHS duo bested 300 state finalists and now will have the opportunity to work with a Samsung mentor.

National finalists receive $50,000 in products and resources along with a chance to win an additional $10,000 in technology via the Community Choice Award, determined by social media votes.

There also is a Samsung Employee Choice Award winner with that same prize amount.

An additional $50,000 prize package is given for “sustainability innovation,” recognizing an entrant who shows consideration for environmental impacts.

Ultimately, the national winner receives a $100,000 prize package.

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