Two Students Are Intel Science Search Finalists

January 31, 2007
Two Montgomery Blair High School Students Are Among 40 National Intel Science Talent Search Finalists

Montgomery Blair High School seniors Brian Lawrence and Matt McCutchen were surprised by yet a second visit from officials in as many weeks to announce that they have been named finalists in the 66th Intel Science Talent Search.

A representative of Science Service, which administers the rigorous science competition, presented each student with a $5,000 finalist check—and the opportunity to go on to the national competition on March 8-13. The top winners will be announced March 13 at a black tie banquet and awards ceremony.

Only two weeks previously, on January 17, representatives came to Blair to congratulate the school for having 12 Intel semifinalists, second highest in the nation. Montgomery County Public Schools also had one semifinalist each at Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Walt Whitman, and Thomas S. Wootton high schools, for a total of 15.

Lawrence earned a finalist award for his mathematics project, Finite Groups with p2 – 1 Elements of Order p. His work involved classical matrix groups with the classification theorem of finite simple groups.

Lawrence is captain of the math team at Blair and has earned national and international mathematical honors, along with being principal cellist in the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra and playing in the American Youth Philharmonic. He plans to pursue a career in mathematics because of “the beauty and structure of the subject.”

McCutchen submitted a theoretical computer science project, Least-Unpopularity-Factor Matching. It addressed the problem of what set of rules (collectively known as an algorithm) could be used to assign people to jobs, considering the preferences of each individual and maximizing their happiness.

McCutchen heads the computer club at Blair and has won many awards, including a gold prize at the 2005 International Olympiad in Informatics in Poland. His hobbies include music theory and composition and open source software development.

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