Richland H.S. freshman headed to international science competition

<p>Swetha Shutthanandan</p>

Swetha Shutthanandan

A Richland High School student is heading to an international science competition after winning top awards at several contests in Washington, and to top it all off - she's only a freshman.

Swetha Shutthanandan developed a more efficient way to create solar cells that conduct electricity.

She says the world needs more alternative and renewable energy sources, and solar energy is one of of the leading ways to make that happen.

Swetha entered her work into a science fair here in the Mid-Columbia and won first place for her presentation.

Then, she traveled to Bremerton for the statewide science and engineering fair.

She competed against 250 other students in her division, and won the silver medal.

She also received several other awards, including an $80,000 college scholarship from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Swetha says she was very surprised to receive all the awards.

"The competition was really crazy because all these projects were so good and I didn't think that I was gonna win anything, but even being called down to the final ten was such a big shock for me. And I'm just really honored to have this opportunity to go to the the Intel science fair in Phoenix and I'm really excited" said Swetha Shutthanandan.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair will be held in Phoenix, Arizona next month.

This is the only world-wide science project competition for high school students.

Over the next couple weeks, Swetha will continue to fine-tune her presentation for the judges.

More than 1,200 high school students from 40 nations will compete for $2 million in scholarships and grants in the international competition.