The Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology offers one of the most prestigious awards available to up and coming stars in the STEM disciplines. However, two previous winners, Akash Krishnan and Matthew P. Fernandez, are now suing Siemens for not paying the $100,000 in scholarship money that they won in the 2010 competition.
How They Won
Fernandez and Krishnan each won a $50,000 scholarship for their design of a computer algorithm that is capable of identifying human emotions in voice. They got the idea for their design by watching a scene in the movie “I, Robot” that showed a robot detecting stress in human speech patterns. The teens hoped that their technology would help autism sufferers better identify emotions in conversations. They won several stages of preliminary competition before going on to win the main competition, in which an independent college board chose the winners.
Winners in Question?
A spokeswoman for Siemens stated that the scholarships have not been paid because the standing of the winners is “in question.” Since she refused further comment, nobody is quite sure what is questionable about the two young men. It is even more confusing when you consider that the teens were announced as team division winners in a news release from Siemens in December of 2010 and that they are still listed on the official website as scholarship winners.
Both Krishnan and Fernandez filed lawsuits against the Siemens Foundation for breach of contract for nonpayment of the scholarship money. The young men and their attorney believe that they won the competition fairly and through their own dedication and hard work. Currently, Krishnan is attending MIT and Fernandez is attending Stanford University. Both boys state that they enrolled in their chosen schools based on the promise of the scholarship funds. No doubt, college students across the country will be anxiously awaiting the results of this judgment.