Intel has decided against renewing its sponsorship of the Science Talent Search, a high school competition for math and science aficionados that the company has been supporting since 1998.
This is a controversial move for the world’s largest maker of microprocessors and chipsets, especially after it recently pledged $300 million in an effort to promote greater diversity within the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
The Science Talent Search had recently taken a step forward in ensuring greater representation for previously neglected categories of participants, by increasing the number of female contestants throughout the years. It would have seemed predictable that Intel would continue to back the competition, particularly now when they openly share the same values.
Nevertheless, Intel spokesperson Gail Dundas declared, “We’re doing a lot of work in the diversity pace, which is wide-ranging, but it’s separate from this”.
Intel’s sponsorship contract with Talent Search will expire in 2017, and afterwards the company will discontinue its support for this competition.
The contest, which began as an essay contest in 1942, is the most prestigious event that high school kids with a passion for science and mathematics can participate in.
The event allows 40 finalists, selected out of the 300 semifinalists, to come to Washington to present their research projects to industry and government leaders. Their work is reviewed by a panel of judges, who then give out the top awards. Former participants in the Science Talent Search went on to become Nobel winners, CEOs, university professors and prominent scientists.
This will mark the end of an almost 20 year-old collaboration, and although no explanation has been given for the decision, it may signal that Intel has shifted its priorities.
It appears unlikely that the move was part of the tech giant’s strategy to cut costs. After all, the sponsorship only cost Intel a measly $6 million per year, whereas its total revenues were at approximately $55.6 billion last year.Dropping this support therefore only reduced costs by 0.01%, which seems insignificant especially considering the good will that championing such an event generated.
It doesn’t seem likely this renouncement was caused by a loss in popularity experienced by the competition either. In fact, around 1,800 high school students apply each year to be involved in the event, and in March the finalists had a meeting with president Obama at the White House.
The Society for Science and the Public, which initiated this annual competition, will now be searching for a new corporate sponsor and it is expected that in the immediate future another corporation will step up to the plate.
Image Source: Intel