Intel Awards High School Student $100K for Math Project

Dennis Faas's picture

A 17-year-old California high school student has been awarded a $100,000 grand prize for a math project that could be used by tech companies to help encrypt information. The award is part of Intel's nation-wide Science Talent Search.

$1.25 Million Awarded to Talented, Young Scientists

Also winning a big cash reward was second-place finisher Michelle Hackman, a 17-year-old from Great Neck, New York whose study of the psychological relationship between teenagers and their cell phones shed new light on technology's impact on mental health.

Hackman, who is blind, used ten helpers to conduct her study and produce the results, which in February led to a brief interview with CBS News Radio. As runner-up, Hackman takes home $75,000.

Third prize went to Matthew Miller, an 18-year-old from Elon, North Carolina. Miller, who won $50,000, found that even tiny alterations in the surface of a wind turbine's blades can affect the device's ability to generate electricity. (Source:

Intel also rewarded dozens of other valuable projects from across the country. The top three finalists mentioned above received just one small portion of the $1.25 million in prize money doled out to an original pool of 1,744 applicants (later narrowed down to 300 semi-finalists and 40 finalists).

But no one could top grand prize winner Ethan O'Dorney of Danville, California. His project, which compares two ways to find the square root of an integer, could be used to help solve other equations and produce new ways of encrypting and thus protecting information.

Technology to Help Move U.S. Forward

Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini says projects like these will help the United States stay on the cutting edge of technology. "The creativity and leadership of these 40 Intel Science Talent Search mathematicians and scientists hold tremendous potential to move our country forward," Otellini said. (Source:

"They are already addressing real-world problems like cancer treatment, disease prevention, and national security. We need to identify the common characteristics that inspired these high school seniors to successfully revitalize math and science education nationwide."

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