Muhammed Hassen wins grand award at Regeneron ISEF

A Johannesburg-based young scientist has scooped a grand award at the 2021 Virtual Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the United States.

Muhammed Hassen, currently in Grade 11 at Greenside High School, was awarded the Second Award of US$2,000 (R27 880 at the time of the announcement) in the engineering mechanics category, sponsored by Society for Science, during an awards ceremony.

Eskom General Manager of Risk and Sustainability, Andrew Etzinger, said: “It is always exciting when our local learners compete in international science fairs against the best in the world. On behalf of Eskom, I would like to congratulate Muhammed on his win. The passion, knowledge and skills he demonstrated in the Regeneron ISEF is commendable. Eskom sees the value in Eskom Expo developing a passion for STEMI in young scientists like Muhammed, and providing a platform for these future problem-solvers to take their scientific brilliance to the next level”.

Hassen, who won the award for his research project, “ThembaBot 5 – Mine Surveying Robot”, said it was a privilege to be selected to compete and represent not only Eskom Expo, but also South Africa at the Regeneron ISEF.

“Winning feels good, because it tells us that as South Africans, we have something to offer on an international platform. It is an amazing and exciting feeling to know that all of the hard work is worth it,” he said. Talking about participating in a virtual fair, Hassen said participants were treated to an array of “virtually physical” activities.

“We created our own avatars and could walk around the entire Regeneron ISEF campus – sort of like a game. We could change clothes, go boating in the ocean or check out the soccer field. There was a virtual exhibition hall, just like an actual science fair, as well as university and STEM exhibition halls. Additionally, meeting kids from other countries who were all doing fascinating projects, was inspiring and humbling.”

Hassen has been working on ideas around 3D printing and robotics, as well as some ideas on using robotics to enhance sustainable solutions in agriculture, for future projects.

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said: “I have attended ISEF over the past 19 years and I am always astounded by the ingenuity and passion for science that these young learners exhibit. Even though Eskom Expo learners participated in a virtual event this year, they were still enthralled by the international experience and interaction with learners from over 70 countries and regions. Congratulations to all our learners for representing South Africa, and to Hassen for bringing home yet another award from ISEF.”

Registration is currently open for participation in Eskom Expo’s virtual provincial science fairs. Learners in grades 4 to 12 may register and upload project documents by clicking here.

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