Indian American high schooler from Illinois wins top computer science award


An Indian American and three others have been selected among a pool of graduating high school seniors as recipients of the Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing that empowers students to pursue computing challenges beyond the traditional classroom environment.

Sirihaasa Nallamothu of University High School in Normal, Illinois, will receive a $10,000 cash prize for her project that was selected by a panel of judges based on “ingenuity, complexity, relevancy and originality.”

Her project engages modern technology and computer science to address the research gap to predict Vasovagal Syncope — a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure leading to fainting — in Patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

Inspired from a TikTok that led her down a rabbit hole about POTS, Sirihaasa found to her surprise there were no research studies or consumer solutions to predict syncope on real-world data.

Sirihaasa is the first person to conduct an Institutional Review Board research study and collect human subject field data on POTS patients in the real world using non-invasive technologies, according to a news release.

She wrote a Python script to extract the 15-minute window signal data of heart rate, blood volumetric pressure, EDA, temperature, and accelerometer data, the release added.

The high schooler also founded a Girls Who Code club at her Middle school, developed and taught coding curriculum/activities, managed grants/funding, and networked and planned events.

After completing her research, Sirihaasa plans to work toward creating a consumer product and pairing her algorithm with a smart watch.

The Cutler-Bell Prize promotes the field of computer science and empowers students to pursue computing challenges beyond the traditional classroom environment.

In 2015, David Cutler and Gordon Bell established the award.

Cutler is a software engineer, designer, and developer of several operating systems at Digital Equipment Corporation. Bell, an electrical engineer, is Researcher Emeritus at Microsoft Research.

This year’s Cutler-Bell Prize recipients will be formally recognised at the Computer Science Teachers Association’s 2023 Virtual Conference, July 11-13.

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