Chinese Immigrant, High School Student, Wins Statewide Engineering Contest Through Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Program

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Zhong “Janson” Fang, a Staten Island Technical High School student taking part in the BMCC Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), just won first place in a STEP statewide contest.

It’s a program designed to recruit as well as support and encourage future scientists.

Zhong “Janson” Fang, a Staten Island Technical High School student taking part in the BMCC Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), just won first place in a STEP statewide contest.

“Since sixth grade, I wanted to create a more efficient electric car, because of growing problems with climate change,” said Fang, who worked closely with BMCC engineering mentors to make his dream car a reality, and finding a surprisingly low-tech way to cool it’s motor: ice, which he found to be plenty cold for the task.

“You simply don’t need to cool an electric motor down to temperatures of superconductivity,” said Fang, “to achieve a much higher level of efficiency.”

Fang completed his project this past spring, and with over a dozen other BMCC/STEP students, piled into a jitney bus and traveled to Albany for a 3-day, statewide competition.

“When I first went to Albany, I had extreme confidence about winning, but after I saw the catalogue, and the research projects the other students did, I was nervous,” Fang admits.

He credits his win in large part to the BMCC/STEP mentors Henry Delgado and Edgar Delgado—both engineering grads from the college—as well as math professor Carol Bilsky-Bienek and engineering professor Mahmoud Ardebili.

“Without them staying every day after school to help me with the project, I don’t think it would have actually won an award,” said Fang.

Established in 1985 by the New York State Legislature, STEP prepares historically underrepresented students, grades seven through 12, for college-level work in science and technology, and BMCC has been a STEP sponsor for over ten years.

“It’s a program designed to recruit as well as support and encourage future scientists,” says STEP Director Everton Barrett. “STEP mentors have enormous knowledge in their specific fields, and share that expertise with high school students who may have abundant interest, but need content knowledge to apply it.”

“Through STEP,” says Barrett, “we provide the leadership and the mentorship, and model lab standards in how to investigate in a scientific way. We teach students how to record data so it’s acceptable in the professional environment, and to minimize bias.”

Fang’s chilled-out engine, having won the judges’ favor in Albany, earned him an invitation to participate in the 2010 New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF) this past spring, and he was selected to participate in Finals Round held at the American Museum of Natural History, where he earned a third-place award in the category of engineering.

“My parents are very supportive when it comes to me doing science projects,” says Fang, who moved to New York from China when he was a small boy. “They don’t pressure me, but I feel it’s my responsibility to do the best that I can, so in the future I can repay what they did for me.”

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) enrolls over 22,000 degree-seeking and 10,000 Continuing Education students a year. The largest community college in The City University of New York (CUNY) system, BMCC has students from more than 155 countries, and awards associate degrees in over 27 fields.

Contact: Lynn McGee
212-346-8501

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Lynn McGee
BMCC
212-346-8501
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