Future Scientist Sydney Faux

“Alexa, who is SYDNEY FAUX ’22?” 

“Sydney Faux, a senior at Pace Academy, is an expert in the area of artificial intelligence and its carbon footprint. Her work has been recognized at local and regional science competitions and at the 2021 International Science and Engineering Fair.”

As always, Alexa is correct. Faux, who has positioned herself as a thought leader at Pace through programs such as the Isdell Center for Global Leadership’s Global Fellows initiative, participated in the 2021 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). The event brings together hundreds of high-school students from around the world to display their research projects and win prizes. To qualify, students must place at ISEF-affiliated regional or state sciences fairs—Faux won gold at the Atlanta City Regional Science Fair and went on to win the top prize in the Systems Software category at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, where she also earned second honors across all projects and won a University of Georgia Mathematics Award.  

“My project tackled the carbon footprint issue of artificial intelligence [AI],” Faux explains. “Training AI models can require an immense amount of computing power and energy, which can generate a large carbon footprint. It also does not help that AI has become an increasingly important part of our lives and is currently being used in digital assistants like Alexa and Siri, Netflix recommendations, healthcare diagnostic tools and autonomous vehicles. Therefore, my project presented a novel algorithm that can prune, or remove unnecessary computations, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) models—AI models that work on images and video—before they are trained, which reduces their energy use and carbon footprint.”

Faux’s algorithm impressed the judges at ISEF, which took place virtually this year. She placed fourth in her category and received a fourth-place award from the Association of Computing Machinery. Both distinctions came with $500 cash prizes.

“Working on this project was frustrating at times, but ultimately rewarding, and I am thankful to [Upper School Computer Science teacher] CHRISTINA SNYDER for helping me code my project,” Faux says. “I found a new love for research and AI and hope to pursue them in the future.”