5/30/14 FUELING INNOVATION
Photos by Sam Roberts / Times-News
A Western Alamance High School sophomore’s engineering project has won her an $8,000 scholarship.
Megan Miller placed second at the 52nd National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, held April 23-27 in Washington.
JSHS is sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force and challenges high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Miller competed with a research project titled “Fuel Efficient Passive Flow Control for Class 8 Tractor-Trailers.”
Miller said the feeling people experience when driving next to a tractor-trailer on a highway is caused by negative pressure space at the back of the trailer.
“It is sucking you along and it is also sucking the tractor trailer backwards. It wastes a lot of fuel,” Miller said. “I wanted to create a simple and cost-effective device to redirect that air.”
A tri-service panel of judges reviewed the written essays and oral presentations, and the presenters were judged on their involvement in the field, the quality of their experimentation and perceptiveness of the research.
“I was able to meet a lot of people in the engineering field. The people who judged my presentation were some of the best engineers,” Miller said.
Before presenting in Washington, Miller was in a regional competition, then proceeded to the N.C. Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, hosted by UNC Charlotte.
“The students are required to sign up in the fall then submit a written essay in January,” said Alisa Wickliff, president of the N.C. Science Fair Foundation. “Then the top 10 are selected to present their work orally. Megan was asked to present her work, and was top two for oral presentations.”
Wickliff knows Miller and her family after working with Matthew, Miller’s older brother, who competed in JSHS before. However, it was during Miller’s competition in Charlotte when they became close.
“She really cares about the betterment of research and the kids in these competitions. She really cares about our experience,” Miller said of Wickliff. “She is so wonderful.”
After the regional and state competitions, Miller continued to the national JSHS competition along with 8,000 other high school students. These 96 students represented each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Department of Defense Dependents School of Europe and the Pacific.
“The speakers were amazing, and I was able to meet so many different people from different states. It was so great to present my research to people who knew what I was talking about and to hear research that other students were presenting,” Miller said. “I thoroughly enjoyed every minute that I was there.”
After high school, she hopes to continue to pursue engineering.
“I enjoy medicine and the human body, so maybe medical engineering,” Miller said.
Miller also enjoys playing the piano and singing in her school’s choir. She plays tennis and soccer for her school and loves the outdoors.