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Space navigation plan takes gold
in 2010 Intel Science Talent Search
By Lisa Grossman
WASHINGTON — Ten of
the nation’s most innova-tive young scientists have
received their version of
Olympic Gold —
tempo-rarily putting aside their
homework to do so.
18, of Albuquerque won
first place in the Intel
Science Talent Search,
a prestigious competi-tion for high school seniors, at a gala
held March 16. DeBenedictis earned a
$100,000 scholarship for designing an
autonomous navigation system that
could help spacecraft travel swiftly and
efficiently along an “interplanetary
superhighway,” using planets’ gravity.
Second place and a $75,000 scholarship
went to David Liu, 18, of Saratoga, Calif.,
for software that automatically searches
and organizes digital pictures. Beyond
organizing personal photo albums, the
system could be helpful in medical imag-ing, space exploration and detecting
threats to oil pipelines, Liu suggests.
Akhil Mathew, 18, of Madison, N.J.,
took third place and a $50,000 scholar-
ship for work combining algebraic geom-etry, representation theory and category
theory in studies of mathematical con-structs called Deligne categories. His
method could be applied to other prob-lems in mathematics, he says.
Society for Science & the Public, which
publishes Science News
, has adminis-tered the Science Talent Search since its
beginning in 1942. The Intel Foundation
sponsors the competition. Vying for more
than $630,000 in scholarships and other
awards, the 40 finalists in this year’s com-
petition were selected from more than
Top winner Erika DeBenedictis wrote navigation software
for spacecraft traveling an interplanetary superhighway.
1,700 entrants and represented 36 high
schools in 18 states. Past STS finalists have
gone on to win many accolades, including
seven Nobel Prizes.
“This year’s Intel STS finalists are fully
worthy successors to the impressive
alumni who have come before them,”
The gala ended a weeklong
visit to Washington, during
which students presented
their projects; met with
members of Congress and
with John Holdren, director of the White
House Office of Science and Technology
Policy; and still had time for fun: a tour of
the national monuments and bowling.
“The best part has been connecting
with the other 39 finalists,” Liu says.
Paul Otellini, Intel’s president and
CEO, said: “These 40 Intel Science Talent
Search finalists demonstrate that we
part has been
with the other
April 10, 2010 | science news | 7