Worcester Tech Vying For Top Prize In Samsung Contest; Online Voting Open Till March 14

Worcester Tech Vying For Top Prize In Samsung Contest; Online Voting Open Till March 14
Pictured, from left, at the recent presentation in Texas are teacher Valerie Ziglejeva, students Carlee Bennett, James Hillyer and Rebecca Lederman, teacher Tracy Hunter, student Chris Brown and Principal Caroline Bloxom. Submitted Photo

SNOW HILL — Students from Worcester Technical High School (WTHS) visited Austin, Texas this month to present their entry in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.

The project is already considered one of the 15 best in the nation but the top five schools will soon be chosen, a designation that would come with both bragging rights and about $140,000 in donated technology.

Earlier this winter the WTHS entry in Solve for Tomorrow, a student imagined re-design of Atlantic General Hospital’s (AGH) outpatient/emergency room, was selected as the winning entry from the State of Maryland, narrowing the contest from about 2,300 to just 51. Out of the 51, WTHS was selected as one of the top 15 based on a video sent to Samsung. Four of the 18 students who worked on the project, two from Biomedical and two from Pre-Engineering programs, were then selected by their peers to travel to Austin to present their design in person, returning earlier this week.

“I was very impressed and proud not only of their presentation, their 12-minute presentation, but also of the way the students presented themselves as they mingled with the MC, who was entrepreneur Bill Rancic [winner of the first The Apprentice reality television show], and the judges. They were at ease, confident and very well spoken so Worcester County Public Schools can be proud of these students and teachers,” said Caroline Bloxom, WTHS principal.

The entry from WTHS has a real shot at being selected as one of the top five, according to teacher Tracy Hunter. Like Bloxom, Hunter credited the professional delivery of the student presentation as a big advantage for Worcester.

“Standing up on the stage with them when we looked out over the judges, you could tell that they too were impressed with our kids with how articulate and well-spoken they were,” Hunter said.

The WTHS Solve for Tomorrow entry has already secured at least $35,000 in donated technology by making it into the final 15. The imagined re-design of AGH’s emergency waiting room has also been lauded by the hospital, whose leadership told the students last month that it was an expert level plan including an emphasis on patient comfort, aesthetics and ease of access. The student design featured aspects such as bamboo panel floors, a green roof, divided seating for the sick, injured and outpatients as well as a variety of other features.

If selected by the judges as one of the top five entries, WTHS will see the technology donated by Samsung drastically increase from $35,000 to around $140,000. But judges will only be selecting four of the five winners, with the fifth spot determined by popular vote. This means that it’s imperative for the school’s supporters to go online and vote not just once but every day.

“It gives the community an opportunity to vote and show support not only to our kids and our school here in Worcester County but also to help put us on the map,” said Barb Witherow, coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs for Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS).

As of Thursday at 12:30 pm., WTHS had secured 534 votes and educators are urging students, parents and community supporters to continue voting. Votes can be logged once per day and require an email confirmation to register.

Along with the chance to earn some much needed technology for the school, becoming a top five Samsung Solve for Tomorrow school would carry weighty national recognition and help boost Worcester’s reputation as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) county.

“We want to make sure that others pick up the trail and do the same thing with schools, their students and for the STEM field in general,” said teacher Valerie Ziglejeva.

Community voting will run until March 14 with a winner announced around March 17 or 18. To vote, visit WCPS homepage at www.worcesterk12.com/ and follow the Solve for Tomorrow link or go directly to www.samsung.com/us/solvefortomorrow/projects/diagnosing-a-hospital.html