Fox Chapel junior earns national STEM award
Monday, February 10, 2020 | 5:40 PM
By the time she was 9 years old, Fox Chapel Area junior Amulya Garimella was using colorful children’s blocks to write computer programs.
“My family exposed me to STEM at a really young age, and I’ve always enjoyed solving problems,” Garimella, 16, said.
The O’Hara teen was lauded for her curiosity last week with the 2020 National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.
She is one of 40 young females selected from across the country, and one of only two winners from Pennsylvania.
The award recognizes high school students for their aptitude in technology and computing as demonstrated by their activities, as well as their leadership and tenacity in the face of barriers to access.
“Oh my gosh, I was so excited about the award,” Garimella said. “I have been applying every year.”
As a freshman, Garimella earned regional recognition in the program, and, last year, received a national runner-up prize.
This year, Garimella competed against more than 4,700 student applicants.
Winners will travel in March to the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., for a celebration. The award is sponsored by Apple, Bank of America, Microsoft and the Motorola Solutions Foundation.
Megan Collett, Fox Chapel’s executive director of instructional and innovative leadership, said Garimella’s passion for exposing peers “to the amazing opportunities” that exist in STEM fields is unrivaled.
“She is dedicated to reducing the gender gap and increasing minority participation in STEM education and opportunities,” Collett said.
Garimella created a scholarship program to offset the cost of attending an upcoming STEM Symposium for students from schools with higher percentages of minority students and students who receive free and reduced lunches, Collett said.
The STEM Symposium will be Feb. 25 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
Garimella said her love of science blossomed at Dorseyville Middle School, where she began participating in science fairs and started spending more time in the lab.
At 11, she was a finalist in the 3M Young Scientist challenge for her design of a bracelet that reads brain waves and alerts the wearer when they get distracted.
The teen appears enthusiastic and steadfast in her dreams for a career in science — she hopes to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Discovering computer science as a sophomore, she said, opened her eyes to how technology has revolutionized work done every day in labs across the globe.
“It’s so important to analyze data,” she said. “It makes things more efficient and it’s one of the most amazing things we’ve created as humans.”