Intel, the semiconductor manufacturer, will end its 18-year sponsorship of one of the biggest science and mathematics competitions for American high school students, the New York Times reports.
Intel’s sponsorship of the Science Talent Search began in 1998, when it became only the second company to sponsor the prize. The contest has awarded prizes to future Nobel laureates and to leaders in STEM disciplines, in business, and in industry. The original sponsor of the contest was Westinghouse, which developed technology used in nuclear power plants.
The prize didn’t cost Intel much, compared to the company’s annual revenue. The $6 million annual investment, which represented substantial increases to the prizes, was a mere 0.01 percent of the Information Age giant’s $55.6 billion revenue last year.
It cost so little and the prestige was so high, some scientists and former winners can’t figure out why the company would drop its sponsorship.
“It’s such a premier event in terms of young people and technology,” the paper quoted Craig Barrett, a former chief executive of Intel, as saying. “But they appear to be more interested in applied things, like” Maker Faire, an all-ages event that showcases homemade engineering projects, he said.
Applications for the prize continue to arrive at a steady pace of about 1,800 per year, according to the article. In March, President Barack Obama greeted the 40 finalists, narrowed down from 300 semifinalists, in the Grand Foyer of the White House, the White House website reported.
Intel has “been an excellent partner for almost 20 years, but their corporate priorities have changed,” the Times quoted Maya Ajmera, president of the Society for Science and the Public, as saying. As the search for a new sponsor gets going, “We pride ourselves on recognizing thousands of leaders in science and technology and hope to keep doing so,” she said.