US President Barack Obama speaks with Intel Science Talent Search finalists, 7th graders from the BindleBot Intel First LEGO Robotics Team from Robert Gray Middle School, during a student demonstration at Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon, on February 18, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images
September 9, 2015 10:39 AM EDT

Intel is ending its sponsorship of one of the country’s most prestigious high school math and science contests, the Science Talent Search, after almost two decades of support.

The contest boasts eight Nobel Prize winners as finalists, along with CEOs and other top scientists, and is considered a barometer for American excellence in math and science. Started as an essay contest in 1942, the Science Talent Search now brings 40 finalists to Washington D.C. to meet with government and industry leaders. Finalists, always in their last year of high school, are often considered the cream of the crop in American STEM education.

The Science Talent Search is administered by the Society for Science and the Public, and was sponsored by Westinghouse until Intel took over sponsoring the contest in 1998. Intel offered no public explanation for dropping their sponsorship, but indicated that they will continue sponsoring the contest until their contract ends in 2017, the New York Times reports.

The Science Talent Search is still as strong as ever. Thousands of students apply to the contest, 300 are chosen as semifinalists, and 40 finalists are brought to Washington. Of those, several are selected to receive top awards—in 2015, nine awards were distributed, valued between $35,000-$150,000. President Barack Obama also met with the finalists when they visited in March.

Sponsoring the contest costs Intel about $6 million a year, about 0.01 percent of the company’s revenue last year, which topped $55 billion. Intel informed the Society for Science and the Public of their decision 18 months ago, and there is not yet an indication of whether another company would step up to sponsor the contest instead.





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