The 8th annual International Sustainable World Energy Engineering and Environment Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) began Friday night, May 8th at the GRB convention center. The enthusiastic crowd of nearly 1,200 people, including students from nearly 70 countries and more than 40 US states, their parents, coaches, industry leaders, guests, dignitaries and more, filled the room, as Dr. Soner Tarim, CEO of Harmony Public Schools kicked-off the event, Miss Harris County, Christina Dillon was a great fit as the evenings emcee.  Miss Dillon, currently in her senior year as a mechanical engineering major, uses her status as Miss Harris County to encourage Girls to Pursue STEM!

Attendees were in awe of the two outstanding keynote speakers.  Dr. Scott Pararzynski, astronaut, Everest climber, pilot and inventor shared his life’s journey and “relentless sense of curiosity”.  His presentation was engaging and his words were inspiring and motivating.  Dr. Parasynski’s presentation was followed by 8 year old Ruben Paul, founder and CEO of Prudent Games.  Ruben, a current student at Harmony School of Science – Austin, shared his numerous successes and drew personal analogies to the theme of I-SWEEEP:  energy, engineering and environment.  At the end of the ceremony both speakers were surrounded by enthusiastic students, eager to take a photo with the speakers, shake hands, and to express gratitude for their inspiring words.

The entertainment for the night included song and dance.  Students from Harmony School of Science – Austin performed three different dances representing Mexican, Columbian, and Turkish cultures.  Sara Hickman rocked the house with upbeat, catchy, audience engaging STEM themed tunes.  Sara took the stage again at the end of the evening joining the flag-waving students and leading the house in song.  Her enthusiasm and charism resulted in an impromptu gift of song by a group of international students and their coaches.

Attendees left the event all smiles and energized by the speakers and performers, and the speakers and performers left with a larger fan base.