Ethan Wong Named Finalist in Regeneron Science Talent Search


Sophia Li, Staff Writer

This year, senior Ethan Wong represented Arcadia High School in the annual Regeneron Science Talent Search competition.

From a pool of 1,804 students, senior Ethan Wong was selected as one of the top 300 students with his project titled Yaw Characteristics of Aircraft with a Bell-Shaped Lift Distribution Built With a Novel Manufacturing Technique.

Being one of the top 300 participants, Wong will receive a $2000 award, and the school will also receive $2000 for STEM education. Wong proceeded to move on to qualify for the top 40 round and succeeded in placing in the top 40! 

Since its founding in 1942, the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) program has been a part of the Society for Science and is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Each applicant submits an original work of research in their own respective scientific field of study and are then judged by experts in the field. The program provides students with a national stage to present their work and findings.

The STS applications opened from June 1 to Nov. 10, 2021, as a pool of 1,804 students applied to the program. On Jan. 6, the top 300 students were announced, and on Jan. 20, the top 40 finalists were selected as well. 

Every year, nearly 2,000 students apply all around the world, from different states to countries. After reviewing the applicants’ projects, the top 300 are announced, followed by the top 40. 

This year marks the 81st anniversary of the Regeneron STS. Research projects ranged from tracking countries’ progress on Sustainable Development Goals to the impact of states’ individual COVID-19 responses. Additional topics include a variety like improving the tools used to diagnose Alzheimer’s to analyzing the effects of virtual learning on education.

“My project was based off of a small experimental flying wing glider developed by NASA which used an aerodynamic trick to essentially integrate the functions of the rudders and winglets into a single wing, significantly reducing drag. I wanted to see if this technology could be made more practical by simplifying the manufacturing technique, and also if it could be applied to an airplane which could conceivably be used in the real world. By building and testing a model blended wing body aircraft, I proved both: the same aerodynamic benefits achieved by NASA could be reached even with cheaper manufacturing techniques, and could be used to construct a practical airplane. I also developed a type of split control surface which could hopefully achieve directional control and enhance the existing properties of the wing, and although it seemed to result in a noticeable improvement in performance, I didn’t test it rigorously enough to include it in my project,” Wong stated.

I became inspired to do this project after watching a video from NASA of a similar experimental aircraft they built. I thought that it was really cool how all the aerodynamics worked out, almost like a coincidence, and I wanted to explore it for myself. I didn’t have any advisors, although my engineering teacher Mr. Chapman did give me the skills I needed to do this project. I did the project by myself in my garage over the summer before my junior year,” Wong also shared.

“Congratulations to this year’s top 300 scholars for their remarkable contributions and discoveries in the STEM field. We are honored to celebrate this new generation of problem solvers who have demonstrated the depth of their innovative thinking, commitment to continuous learning, and ability to tackle global challenges in creative ways,” said Christina Chan, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Citizenship at Regeneron. 

“It’s weird and a little scary that I’m considered to be in the top 40 in the nation in terms of scientific potential. In terms of competition from this point forward, I really don’t care what happens since I never expected to get this far anyways and I just hope to have fun in DC,” Wong shared.

As a finalist, he will participate in the Finals Week competition from Mar. 9 to 16. Finalists are each awarded at least $25,000, and the top 10 winners of that group will receive awards ranging from $40,000 to $250,000. In total, the finalists will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards during the week-long competition.

For any other students wanting to pursue STEM or enter the STEM field, know to pursue knowledge fearlessly, and to never give up! As for Wong himself, many planes had to crash in order for him to get this far. 

As Ethan Wong advances and moves forward in the competition, we wish him good luck and hope to support him! 


Photo courtesy of AUSD