IRVINE – Irvine-based Broadcom and the Society for Science & the Public announced a six-year, $6 million partnership to launch a national middle school competition focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

The Broadcom MASTERS–Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars–is designed to inspire and reward interest in science, technology, engineering and math among students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

“We are delighted to partner with SSP to inspire students to envision careers that can be theirs if they stay engaged in mathematics, science and engineering throughout high school and college,” said Scott McGregor, president and CEO of the semiconductor company and president of its foundation, which was founded in 2009 to support advancement of science, technology, engineering and math.

“Those of us in leadership positions in the technology world have a responsibility to devote time, energy and resources to providing students with opportunities that encourage students to excel in these critical pillars of innovation,” McGregor said.

“We invite all middle schools and after-school organizations from every community to become involved and offer their students the opportunity to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS.”

Broadcom and SSP expect more than 7,500 middle school students from the United States and Puerto Rico to be nominated to compete in the first year of the program.

Students receiving nominations will be top winners from the more than 350 SSP-affiliated science fairs and programs across the country.

Judges will select 300 semifinalists and 30 finalists to compete for regional and national recognition. The finalists will come together for a week in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2011 for judging, joint projects and site visits.

The competition culminates in awards and prizes, including a $25,000 education grand prize from the Samueli Foundation, a gift of Susan and Henry Samueli, a founder of Broadcom.

“President Obama said last week that ‘our success as a nation depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation,’” said Elizabeth Marincola, president of the Society for Science & the Public.

“The Broadcom MASTERS will jumpstart that engine by reaching future innovators at a vital age when an interest in scientific inquiry often takes root, inspiring middle school students to achieve their full potential,” she said.

SSP, a nonprofit founded in 1921, and the Broadcom Foundation are seeking additional partnerships for the competition with business and organizations.