Fifth grader wins national award for letter about engineers’ contributions during pandemic

Fifth grader wins national award for letter about engineers’ contributions during pandemic

Fifth grader wins national award for letter about engineers’ contributions during pandemic

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced the winners of its 2021 EngineerGirl writing competition, which includes a young girl from Hillsborough.

This year’s contest asked students in grades 3-12 to write an essay that salutes engineering’s role in meeting and defeating the challenges presented by COVID-19. Prizes were awarded to students based on grade level.


For grades three to five, Yashvi Sharma, in fifth grade at Auten Road Intermediate School in Hillsborough, won third place for “Tribute to the Contributions of Engineers in the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Her submission states:

I wish to provide some perspective on our unsung heroes in COVID-19 battle that have been working relentlessly for us. I want to highlight the efforts of these inquisitive souls, our engineers, who have armored us and our frontline workers to navigate successfully through these challenging times.

Just imagine what would the mortality outcomes of COVID-19 be without engineering and technological advancements in the field of genetic & biomedical engineering that have helped our scientists create mRNA vaccines in a record fast time in human history. How could we go from hundreds of doses to millions of doses and distribute vaccines without engineering and technological advancements in the field manufacturing, logistics & supply chain engineering networks which are helping us distribute vaccines at an unprecedented speed. How could we detect and reduce the spread of the deadly virus without geospatial systems and engineers which helped pinpoint areas of infection. How could we save our medical warriors without mechanical & manufacturing engineers which enabled manufacturing, scaling up & distribution of personal protective equipments and biomedical equipment like ventilators to support critical patients. None of this would be possible without the engineering professionals who have helped create the world that never was!

It’s not the first time when our engineering avengers have helped us through these challenging times. Their work has been equally critical to support people & ensure continuity during such challenging times since centuries. In 1918 Flu Pandemic, the most severe recorded pandemic in human history, engineers played a similar pivotal role in helping people cope with the spread of the disease.

Radios and telephones greatly influenced our response to the last great epidemic. Telecommunication helped holding regular conversations, sick customers calling stores to phone in their orders. “People who are in quarantine are not isolated if they have a Bell Telephone,” suggested a 1918 quarantine ad from Bell Telephone Company.

Fast forwarding to today, our engineers are working hand in hand with our frontline workers in our fight against COVID-19 virus. A group of engineers in Italy including Massimo Temporelli, founder of “The FabLab” came up with a simple and cheap solution of printing 3D ventilators in a matter of hours to help tackle ventilator shortage and save lives. A Mexican engineer, Fernando Aviles, realized that healthcare workers were getting infected while transporting COVID-19 patients, and created isolation pods to protect essential workers. As the article, “Interesting Engineering”, states “The negative pressure means that, even if the plastic lining of the pod is torn during the transfer of a patient, any fluids will remain inside the isolation pod, an ingenious method for stopping the spread of infectious disease amongst healthcare workers.” There were 40 healthcare workers in the first 138 Covid-19 patients diagnosed in Wuhan. Our Artificial Intelligence & Robotics engineers have played a very crucial part by enabling integration of robots as a shielding layer, physically separating the frontline workers and patients.

Telecom, network & cloud infrastructure engineers have spent many sleepless nights to make sure that our systems stay connected so that our frontline responders can respond effectively, and we can work & learn from home in these difficult times.

I do not see how we could have responded to this deadly virus without the great engineering and technological ecosystem created by the combined and coordinated efforts of our engineering professionals from multiple engineering disciplines. I salute their great ideas and innovations. We owe a lot to them. I request you to please highlight this through your newspaper to appreciate and give them the big thank you they deserve.



“I congratulate all the 2021 writing contest winners on their very thoughtful submissions that highlighted the roles of engineers in addressing COVID-19 challenges,” NAE President John L. Anderson said in a statement released after the June 3 announcement. “These young students showcased the indispensable work of engineers, their creativity and ingenuity, in fighting COVID-19 around the world.”

EngineerGirl is designed for girls in elementary through high school and offers information about various engineering fields and careers, answers to questions, interviews of engineers, and other resources on engineering, according to the statement.

The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshaling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology, according to the statement. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science, technology, and health.

The 2021 EngineerGirl writing contest was sponsored by Chevron Corp. and the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology, and Science. Awards are $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place. Certificates are given for honorable mentions.

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