KUCHING: It was more than a dream come true for SMK Batu Lintang student Faye Jong Sow Fei when she participated in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles earlier this month.
The 15-year-old did the nation proud by winning the best of category and first awards for her project “Biowaste Materials as Eco-Friendly Mordant in Fabric Dye Process”.
Faye is the first Malaysian student to win the top awards in a category at the prestigious international fair, which featured more than 1,700 students from over 70 countries this year.
She received a prize of US$5,000 (RM16,167) for the best of category award and US$3,000 (RM9,700) for the first award. In addition, she was selected as one of three recipients of an all-expenses-paid trip to the European Union Contest for Young Scientists to be held in Warsaw, Poland, in September.
Faye said taking part in the fair with students from all over the world was a dream come true.
“The experience is beyond description. It was fun and I really enjoyed it,” she said when met at her school yesterday.
Her project, which was entered in the environmental management category, investigates the use of biowaste materials as eco-friendly alternatives in dyeing fabric.
Its aim was to combat the use of chemicals and synthetic dyes in colouring fabric.
“I looked at five materials — mangosteen skins, rambutan rinds, tea bags, pineapple waste and fish scales — as mordants to fix dye on fabric.
“From my research, I found that mangosteen skin was the best mordant. I also used natural onion skin dye in my project,” she said, adding that she had been working on it since the end of 2011.
During the judging, which took a whole day, Faye had to present her project to seven scheduled and five unscheduled judges.
Despite the scrutiny, she was not nervous but was able to answer their questions with confidence.
“I had read my report the night before, so I was confident about my project. It’s important to answer confidently and be honest. You must also put your heart and soul into your project.
“When I looked at the other projects in the category, I thought they were advanced and very hi-tech and mine was just a simple project. But I was quite confident and thought, who knows, I might have a chance,” she said.
Faye, who wants to become a doctor, added that she was saving up her prize money for further education.
Sharing her joy, SMK Batu Lintang principal Saftuyah Adenan said Faye’s success caught everyone in the school by surprise.
“We have been sending stu- dents to Intel ISEF since 2002 and this is the best result ever. Everyone was smiling from ear to ear,” she said.
“We aim to send participants every year and we hope we will continue to make the school and the state proud.”