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Gov. Holcomb Announces First STEM Team Award Winners
Updated May 31, 2017 4:40 AM | Filed under: Education
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Pictured Left to Right: Ujwala Pamidimukkala, Samantha Fassnacht, Indiana Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb, Miranda Shook, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Truman Bennet.

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Governor Eric J. Holcomb, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick and Treasurer Kelly Mitchell announced the winners of the 2017 Governor's STEM Team awards.

"These four students have demonstrated excellence in subjects that are fueling the innovation and entrepreneurship to build our economic future," Gov. Holcomb said. "It's a pleasure to recognize their hard work on a statewide level and elevate Indiana's academic superstars. I can't wait to see where the future takes these bright young Hoosiers."

The awards highlight Indiana's elite high school students for their work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Each winner received a $1,000 college scholarship through Indiana's CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan, letterman jackets identifying them as members of the Governor's STEM Team and tickets to Gen Con Indy--the longest-running gaming convention in the world.

"Success in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math drives our students and our state forward," said Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. "I am excited to see the passion for STEM exhibited by Ujwala, Samantha, Miranda and Truman, and I am honored to be a part of the 2017 Governor's STEM Team award ceremony."

"STEM education is vital to developing Indiana's workforce, and CollegeChoice 529 is helping young Hoosiers reach educational goals in these critical fields," said Kelly Mitchell, Indiana Treasurer of State. "As chair of the CollegeChoice Plans, I am delighted to help reward the outstanding students of the Governor's STEM Team for their achievements and see where their studies take them in the years to come."

Four students - one from each of the four STEM subject areas - were honored in a ceremony Tuesday in the Governor's Office.

Science Winner
Student: Ujwala Pamidimukkala
Attends: Columbus North High School, Senior

Ujwala ranked first in her class of 435 students. She has earned a number of awards and achievements throughout high school, including National Merit Finalist, U.S. Presidential Scholars Candidate, and Indiana Academic All-Star Finalist.

Ujwala also placed first in the state for both Medical Math and Pharmacy Tech in the 2016 Health Occupations Students of America competition.

Future Plans:
Ujwala plans to continue to pursue these academic interest in college by majoring in molecular biology. She aspires to be a cardiovascular surgeon.

Technology Winner
Student: Samantha Fassnacht
Attends: Westfield High School, Senior

Samantha has been recognized several times from the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Award, a national competition that recognizes high school women for their contributions to technological fields.

In 2016 and 2017, she was selected as the Indiana state winner, and in 2017 she earned a National Honorable Mention award for her involvement and experience in computer science and technology.
Samantha is also a National Merit Finalists and a US Presidential Scholars Candidate.

Future Plans:
Samantha intends to study computer science at the University of Toronto.

Engineering Winner
Student: Miranda Shook
Attends: Greenfield-Central High School, Senior

Miranda is ranked ninth in her class and will earn both an Academic and Technical Honors Diplomas when she graduates this month. She was the president of the Women in STEM group at Greenfield-Central and has participated in many engineering activities and competitions.

She was the high school's driver and engineer for the Nasa Rover Challenge, leading her team to a second place victory and fifth place in the high school division. Miranda represented her school and Rover team in a presentation to First Lady Pence. She was a designer for the Vex Robot competition and chosen by her school to represent the Rover and Vex competition programs. Miranda also presented her paper on possible energy sources on Mars at NASA.

Future Plans:
Miranda will be a German ambassador with the Congress Bundesstag Youth Exchange before heading to Valparaiso University to study Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

Math Winner
Student: Truman Bennet
Attends: Marion High School, Senior

Truman has earned a number of awards and achievements in Mathematics throughout his high school career. He earned a perfect score on his AP Calculus AB Exam in 2016, and he was one of only 18 students in the world (approximately 0.006 percent of all applicants) to earn every possible point on the assessment. This distinction was honored by the Indiana legislature and the City of Marion.
Additionally, Truman earned first place in both the individual and team categories in the 2016 Huntington University Math Competition, first place in the 2016 Trine University Math Competition, and first place in the 2014 Huntington University Math Competition.

Future Plans:
Truman intends to one day obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics.

Students were nominated for the first Governor's STEM Team earlier this year, and a panel of STEM professionals, teachers and university representatives evaluated more than 100 applications to select the winners based on academic performance, work in research, leadership, community service and extracurricular involvement.

Nominations for the 2018 Governor's STEM Team will open in the fall.

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