Fifteen students from Long Island schools, including four from Manhasset High School, were named regional finalists Monday in the prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology.
Nationwide, 97 regional finalists in 20 states were announced. New York and California had the most with 17 each.
Christine Yoo, who teamed up with Manhasset classmate Kimberly Te to create a device that could produce energy more efficiently, said she cried when she heard they were selected.
"I was overwhelmed with joy," Yoo said. "Tears just started streaming down my face. All of the hard work we put in was worth it."
Te was equally thrilled and looks forward to pursuing a career in environmental engineering.
"Science challenges me," she said. "I like engineering because I'm also an artist and it makes me think creatively. And it's interdisciplinary, mixing physics, chemistry and biology."
Alison Huenger is the science research specialist at Manhasset who advised Yoo, Te and finalists Jun Yan He and Kevin Sadhu. Huenger called the students exceptional, adding that her school hasn't had a regional finalist since 2010.
"Their work ethic exceeded my expectations," she said. "During the school year, they would come in on Saturday to conduct research."
The regional finalists, mostly juniors and seniors who were selected from 466 semifinalists, receive $1,000 each. They will present their projects via Web-conferencing and other digital means next month to judges at one of six universities across the country, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The national finalists will be identified through that process and compete in December at The George Washington University in Washington. Six individuals and six teams will win scholarship awards ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.
Three students from Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills -- Vishal Nyayapathi, Brian Rhee and Alia Rizvon -- received the regional distinction Monday, as did Sarah Lee and Kunal Shah from Syosset High School.
Students Kameron Sedigh and Julian Ubriaco from Kings Park High School, Bongseok Jung from Herricks High School and Roshan Patel from Ward Melville High School in East Setauket also were selected.
Sedigh worked to discover a new approach for the design of antibiotics that could be used to fight bacterial infections such as MRSA. He said he was glad to devote his time to such a pressing issue.
"Antibiotic resistance has been a growing threat in the world," he said.
Ubriaco's research focused on the detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer. While he doesn't know anyone who suffers from the disease, he's met many people whose lives have been touched by it -- including the bus driver who took him to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to work on his project.
"Her husband passed because of it," Ubriaco said, adding that everyone who asks about his work thanks him for his efforts.
Two private school students, David Herman from Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere and Yujin Kim from The Stony Brook School in Stony Brook, also made the cut.
Herman said he and a partner worked to make fuel cells a viable and realistic alternative to the burning of fossil fuels. Like some of the other regional finalists, he teamed up with a student from another state -- in his case, Kevin Qian of Plymouth, Minnesota.
Herman met Qian at a Stony Brook University summer research program and the two started to work on their project soon after.
"Once we got the semifinalist announcement Friday, I was over the moon," Herman said. "And today, it was amazing. When I saw my name on the list, it was a great moment."