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MAY 2015


Software Scan

The President's Column

I'm proud to announce the winners of the inaugural Zeidman Award at the Synopsys Science and Technology Championship for Santa Clara County. Read about it in the Scanning IP section of the newsletter.

Send me your comments and critiques. I'm always interested in hearing from you.


Bob Zeidman
President, SAFE Corporation

Scanning IP

Zeidman Award
This is the inaugural year for the annual Zeidman Awards at the Synopsys Science and Technology Championship for Santa Clara County (aka Silicon Valley) in California. How I got involved, how the award was born and evolved, and the personal rewards I got make an interesting story.

This annual science fair showcases middle and high school student scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. The official announcement describes students “who will become our future scientists, engineers…, and mathematicians,” but after seeing the projects I feel that at least some of the students have already achieved that distinction. The winning projects go on to compete in other state and national competitions, including the prestigious Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. This year there were over 900 entries.

My involvement started several years ago as a judge for the IEEE awards. Last year I published a book based on my seminars about engineering for non-engineers entitled Just Enough Electronics to Impress Your Friends and Colleagues. A large computer chain had agreed to a large purchase and so I printed up a minimum run of 1,000 copies and then… the computer chain purchaser simply went silent. Too late to stop the order, I ended up with lots of books stacked floor to ceiling in my house. Eventually I had the idea to give them away to science fair students. At least that was the idea when I approached the Santa Clara Valley Science and Engineering Fair Association. They were excited about the idea.

When the 2015 science fair planning began several months ago, after discussions with the organizers, somehow the book giveaway morphed into an award, specifically the Zeidman Award for middle school students. I've always liked encouraging and rewarding students for their achievements, so the idea really appealed to me. However, I realized that a book alone was not a terrific prize. So I created three cash awards to be given along with a signed copy of the book. Eventually I realized that it would be great if every student who was eligible for the prize received a copy of my book.

I then went to the task of recruiting judges. I contacted almost every local engineering and science colleague in my contact list from the past 30 years. I didn’t expect a great response, especially since this was only two weeks before the fair. I sent requests to almost 500 people and ended up with 25 judges, which appeared to be twice as many judges as the IEEE, the ACM, and any other organization at the fair. My first reward was reconnecting with my colleagues, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a decade or more, and sharing the excitement of the fair with them. With so many judges we were able to view every eligible project and interview every eligible student in the fair—one hundred and twenty two projects—something that doesn't always happen due to time and personnel limitations.

The next reward I received was the feedback from the judges that every student was excited just to receive a copy of the book. Obviously there are more winners than participants and, having entered my share of science fairs as a student, I know the disappointment when your hard work goes unrecognized. Giving out books—something substantial and not just a token—allowed every student to feel rewarded for their efforts. That was satisfying to me.

In the end, we had about 10 entries that the judges felt were the best overall. I viewed each of these projects. All of the students were excited, knowledgeable, and articulate. I decided that six of them were exceptional, but I had only created three awards. After a quick inquiry of the organizers, I found that I could give out additional honorable mentions and so I quickly instituted 3 Honorable Mentions in addition to First Place, Second Place, and Third Place for the Zeidman Awards. These are those exceptional projects:

First Place ($500 and a signed book)
  • Raghav Ganesh, Miller Middle School, San Jose: Developing an Electronic Wearable and Customizable Solution to Predict and Prevent Autistic Meltdowns.
Second Place ($250 and a signed book)
  • Sanjana V. Shah, Kennedy Middle School, Cupertino: Text Compression Algorithm Based on Popularity using Global English Dictionary.
Third Place ($125 and a signed book)
  • Srinath Somasundaram, Harker School-Middle Campus, San Jose: A Novel Design and Evaluation of an Air Cushioning mechanism for Helmets to Minimize Impact Acceleration on the Head.
Honorable Mentions (a signed book)
  • Adishree Ghatare, Challenger School Shawnee, San Jose: Adjusting Blood Sugar Levels to Address Diabetes.
  • Anika Cheerla, Kennedy Middle School, Cupertino: Automated Diagnosis of Alzheimer's from MRI Images.
  • Mokshith Voodarla and Shiven Gupta, Lawson Middle School, Cupertino: Wearable Device for the Visually Impaired.
I held a breakfast at my house with the award winners to share my advice on engineering, science, and business. They were all excited about meeting me, but I don't know if they were as excited as I was, meeting the future inventors, innovators, researchers, and leaders who will be changing our world.

Raghav Ganesh
Carrie and Bob Zeidman with 2015 Zeidman Award First Place Winner Raghav Ganesh

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