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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Three win URI engineering scholarships for success at state science and engineering fair

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 9, 2004 -- Wayne Powers and Joshua Bennett of Bristol and Justine Fortier of Coventry have won scholarships to study engineering at the University of Rhode Island as a result of their strong showing at the Rhode Island State Science and Engineering Fair in March.

"This is the first year that the URI College of Engineering has offered scholarships to the top winners of the fair," said Bahram Nassersharif, dean of the college. "All of the participating students did excellent work. I look forward to returning next year to offer even more scholarships so we can recruit more of the students with the greatest engineering potential to attend URI."

Powers, a junior at Mt. Hope High School, won the top prize -- a $4,000 scholarship to URI -- for his study of background radiation levels at his school and the impact that televisions and computers have on those levels. He concluded that his school contains safe radiation levels, and that the use of a TV or computer only raises those levels slightly.

He intends to major in physics and chemistry in college, and plans a career as a researcher in the fields of particle and nuclear physics. He is a member of the Mt. Hope science olympiad team, math team, and academic decathlon team.

Bennett is a sophomore at Our Lady of Fatima High School in Warren, where he plays on the baseball team and enjoys playing the drums and guitar. He won a $1,500 URI scholarship for his project designing a solar furnace as an alternative form of energy. His furnace uses a group of mirrors to direct the sunís light to one focal point, and he envisions it used to power boilers to generate heat from steam or to generate electricity.

Fortier, a freshman at LaSalle Academy in Providence, earned a $500 scholarship for inventing a device to warn hearing-impaired drivers of an approaching rescue vehicle. After two years of work on the project, she is currently seeking a patent for the device. She also runs track for LaSalle and is a competitive figure skater.

"I hope to see more entries in the engineering categories of the science and engineering fair next year," said Nassersharif. "Many students that entered in the physics, chemistry or environmental areas could have entered in engineering, but many students and teachers donít realize the vast disciplines involved in engineering."

URI offers degrees in nine engineering disciplines; civil, chemical, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial, manufacturing, mechanical and ocean engineering.