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For Immediate Release
Schedule of events below

UTB/TSC to host 50th RGV Regional Science and Engineering Fair

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS- FEBRUARY 26, 2010- The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College will host the 50th annual Rio Grande Valley Regional Science and Engineering Fair Saturday, March 6, at the Fort Brown campus and the International Technology Education and Commerce Center.

 Lia Garza won grand champion at the 49th RGV Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

Lia Garza won grand champion at the 49th RGV Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

“We continue to grow every year,” said Roni Rentfro, director of the RGVRSEF. “We expect about 500 entries this year of local students that will showcase their talent.”

The competition is broken into a senior division, competing on the Fort Brown campus, and a junior division, at the ITECC. The awards ceremony will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m for the Senior Division at the Jacob Brown Auditorium. U.S. Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz will be participate in the awards ceremony. Awards for the junior division will be handed out at the ITECC.   

American Airlines is providing transportation for the winners in the international division. They will be flown to Reno, Nevada for the International Science and Engineering Fair in May.

“American Airlines/American Eagle are proud to be a part of the RGV Regional Science and Engineering Fair,” said Shelly Berube American Airlines/ American Eagle spokeswoman. “Science is such a positive investment in the future of our youth.”

What began as a way to encourage students’ interest in science, 50 years later the competition has launched careers, changed lives and made history for Brownsville and the surrounding communities.

In the earlier years since its first competition in 1960, the regional fair was held at the Elks Lodge in Harlingen, spearheaded not only by the Harlingen School District competitors, but Raul A. Besterio, Jr. who has become virtually synonymous with science in Brownsville.

“Mr. B saw the value of students working independently and rewarding students for theirefforts,” said Michael Baldwin, a science teacher at Hanna High School in Brownsville. “He inspired students and he inspired me. I was ready to throw in the towel and it’s amazing how from his hospital bed and in a short period of time with just a few phone calls, he could make it happen. We miss him.”

In the fall of 2001, the science fair almost did not take place. Baldwin remembered when the director then could not run the fair anymore and there was no place to host the event. That was when Bestiero again stepped in called UTB/TSC President Dr. Juliet V. Garcia for help.

“Dr. (Juliet V.) Garcia (UTB/TSC president) told me Mr. Besteiro had called her from his hospital bed. She said he told her Michael Baldwin has a problem and the science fair may not take place. Mr. B asked her for help. Dr. Garcia told me she would set up a meeting with university administrators and that how the fair started at UTB/TSC,” Baldwin said.

After 33 years of service he left the school district and eventually served as the Director of the Port of Brownsville, Bestiero stayed close to the fair until his death in 2004. Today, his legacy lives on through the Raul A. Besteiro, Jr. and the Greater Texas Foundation Endowment in his awarded to the grand champion winner each year.

Even today, throughout the Valley community, students and teachers alike who participated or helped students with projects remember the impact the science fair had on their lives.

UTB/TSC student and last year’s RGV RSEF Grand Champion winner Lia Garza has been participating in science fairs since elementary school. In eighth grade her project involved a water powered generator. In 9th grade she switched to wind and has been working with a wind-powered generator ever since.

Last year in her senior year at Hanna High School, Garza’s work paid off. She placed first in district, was a grand champion at regionals, then went on to international competition in Reno, Nev.

“Winning grand champion was awesome,” she said. “That was my goal for my senior year. It’s such a great experience to go to fairs and meet interesting people. Everyone is doing the same thing you are, they’re so focused on their projects. And at internationals I met students from all over the world, it was so great. I’ve kept in touch with the other three who went to Reno with me. In fact, one’s here at UTB/TSC.”

Garza, a biology major, is working with Dr. William Berg in the UTB/TSC engineering department this semester to improve on her design and hoping to generate more voltage from the generators.
More than 400 volunteers and judges are needed to help support the science fair.
To register as a volunteer, go to science.rgvrsef.com or e-mail Roni Rentfro at
ronilou@gmail.comIn addition to volunteers, sponsorships are also welcome to help defray the costs.

For more information, or to become a sponsor, contact Jack White at (956) 882-6563 or jack.white@utb.edu, or Laurie Howell at (956) 882-4334 or laurie.howell@utb.edu.

Schedule of Events:
March 6: 
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Judging (UTB/TSC Garza Gymnasium for Senior Division and ITECC for Junior Division)

11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Public tours and presentations at both campus locations--Mall at ITEC Center (old Amigoland Mall) and Garza Gymnasium on the Fort Brown Campus

2:30 p.m.-4 p.m.: Public viewing (at the judging locations above) or as soon as judging is completed

4 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Awards Ceremony Senior Division at Jacob Brown Auditorium and Junior Division in the ITECC main courtyard


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