High school senior, computer science student researcher wins regional 2012 Siemens Competition

ShiKensen Shi, a senior at A&M Consolidated High School and a visiting student member of Texas A&M University's Parasol Lab in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is the individual winner of the Region Two Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

The contest was held in October at The University of Texas at Austin. Shi is one of three Region Two students named national finalists and will compete with the individual winners of the five other regions in the 2012 National Siemens Competition at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1-4. 2,255 students registered to enter the 2012 Siemens Competition and a total of 1,504 projects were submitted.

Kensen's winning project, "Lazy Toggle PRM: A Single-Query Approach to Motion Planning," develops a new method for robot navigation that is faster and more effective for certain kinds of obstacles, said Dr. Inderjit Dhillon, competition judge and professor of computer sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. Dhillon said that Shi's "work is at the level of a strong and independent graduate student."

Dr. Nancy Amato, professor of computer science and the Parasol Lab's co-director, invited Kensen to join Parasol Lab during his quest to find a Texas A&M computer science faculty mentor for his research.

Shi said, "I was inspired to do scientific research when I realized it would give me a chance to use my textbook knowledge to solve real-world problems and contribute to the scientific community."

Ph.D. student and Parasol Lab researcher Jory Denny has been mentoring Shi in research since Shi joined the lab and has helped him prepare for the competitions. A paper co-written by Denny, Shi and Amato has been submitted to a major robotics conference. Denny received a B.S. in computer science from Texas A&M in 2011, graduating magna cum laude.

Among Shi's accolades is his leadership of the Texas American Regional Mathematics League Gold Team, which placed 13th nationally. In the USA Computing Olympiad Gold Division he placed 21st nationally; and he was a U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad finalist. He has also won many awards in the Houston Forum Young Artists Piano Competition. His said his academic goal is to become a professor and researcher in computer science.

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, the nation's foremost teen research competition, recognizes the brightest high school minds and supports their future academic and research endeavors. Through the competition, regional and national finalists achieve national recognition for their science research projects and substantial scholarship monies.