SAN FRANCISCO — Intel, the world’s largest maker of semiconductors, is dropping its longtime support of the most prestigious science and mathematics competition for American high school students.
The contest, called the Science Talent Search, brings 40 finalists to Washington for meetings with leaders in government and industry and counts among its past competitors eight Nobel Prize winners, along with chief executives, university professors and award-winning scientists.
Over the years, the award for work in so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — has made national headlines and been an important indicator of America’s educational competitiveness and national priorities.
Dropping support for the high school contest is a puzzling decision by Intel, since it costs about $6 million a year — about 0.01 percent of Intel’s $55.6 billion in revenue last year — and it generates significant good will for the sponsoring organization. Intel has also increased the size and scope of the award, giving more than $1.6 million annually to students and schools, compared with $207,000 when it began its sponsorship in 1998.
Gail Dundas, a spokeswoman for Intel, could not say why it was ending its support, but she said the company, which has struggled with a shift to mobile computing devices but is still one of the tech industry’s most influential names, is “proud of its legacy” in supporting the award...A couple of comments:
- First, why is Intel making this move? It doesn't make a ton of sense from a financial perspective.
- The article makes reference to Google perhaps being interested in sponsoring the fair. Over the years, the sponsorship of the fair has gone from Westinghouse to Intel; if it goes to Google, it probably follows the arc of economic history in the US...
- Do we pay too much attention to high-end science fairs? I wonder if we do, although I suspect that the 20-year predictive value of the Science Talent Search for R1 tenured professors and future physicians and scientists is probably quite high.