- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2001

Montgomery Blair High School and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology will continue a local tradition this year by sending two students apiece to compete for the nation's most prestigious science award.
The two schools usually well represented in the contest are the only ones from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to boast finalists in this year's Intel Science Talent Search, according to results announced yesterday.
Alan Dunn, 17, and William Pastor, 18, students at Montgomery Blair in Silver Spring, Md., earned the honor, as did Parimalram Madduri, 17, and Vladimir Novakovski, 15, from Thomas Jefferson in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, Va.
New York schools have dominated the competition in the past and this year have 13 finalists, by far the most from any state. California, the runner-up, has four finalists.
All 40 national finalists will go on to the last round of interviews and presentations in the District the week of March 7. A black-tie awards banquet will be held March 12.
Both Montgomery Blair and Thomas Jefferson offer magnet programs and place students in summer internships at various universities, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
Blair's program produced six finalists in 1999, the most by any one school in eight years. The school made a better showing in the contest than 48 of 49 participating states.
Asked about the success of Thomas Jefferson students, teacher Fred Lampazzi has said: "It's 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. These kids have the drive."
About 1,500 students applied for this year's contest and the field was then narrowed to 300 semifinalists. The finalists, who range in age from 14 to 18, will be reduced to one winner.
Each student created a project that delves into subject matter such as high-pressure physics, encryption algorithms and planetary science.
Vladimir submitted a physics project on neural networks. Neural networks mimic the way nerve cells are connected in the brain and are important for understanding how the brain performs complex tasks.
The young man, a Russian native living in Springfield, Va., designed such a system using optics, with light beams as neurons and holograms as interconnects.
Vladimir is a veteran of science, engineering and quiz-bowl clubs. He placed first internationally at the USA Computing Olympiad Fall Open and Winter Open 2000 with perfect scores.
Like Alan and Parimalram, Vladimir hopes to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He plans a triple major in physics, math and computer science.
Aside from recognition by top universities, the finalists can win cash prizes, including a $100,000 scholarship for the first-place finisher. A total of $530,000 in scholarship money will be handed out this year.
No one receives less than a $5,000 scholarship and a free computer.
The talent search is often considered the Nobel Prize of science competitions for U.S. high school seniors. Intel, the world's largest computer-chip maker, assumed sponsorship of the 60-year-old award from Westinghouse in 1998.
"Science and technology skills have become basic skills, like reading, writing and arithmetic, necessary to be competitive in today's economy," said Craig Barrett, Intel's president and CEO.
"The next innovations and ideas will come from these … students and other young people who are comfortable with technology and have a solid grounding in science and math."
According to organizers, more than 70 percent of winners have gone on to earn doctoral degrees. Five former finalists have won a Nobel Prize.

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