COLLEGE PARK, MD.—Los Alamos High School’s Alexandr Wang has been named as a member of the 2014 United States Physics Team.
Wang joins America’s brightest emerging physicists at Physics Boot Camp this week in College Park, Md., to prepare for the next stage of the competition to identify the world’s best high school physics students.
The team is comprised of 19 students from across the U.S. who have emerged through a rigorous exam process that began in January with approximately 4,277 students who participated in the Fnet=ma exam to become the 2014 U.S. Physics Team. These students will continue to train for the mentally grueling exams and lab tests they’ll face at the 45th International Physics Olympiad to be held from July 13-21 in Astana, Kazakhstan, where more than 400 student scholars from 92 nations will test their knowledge in physics, competing with the best in the world.
Over the last 10 years, every U.S. Physics Team member traveling to the international competition has returned with a medal.
“The competition for a position on the U.S. Physics Team is intense and each student who participated in the 2014 selection process is deserving of recognition. They are the future of America’s success in physics related fields. AAPT is honored to recognize the exceptional scholars who qualified for the team and to support their further participation in the International Physics Olympiad,” said Dr. Beth A. Cunningham, Executive Officer of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
An integral part of the U.S. Physics Team experience is the training camp. Most of the students invited to the camp are the top science student in their high school. For many, it is their first chance to meet other students who are truly their peers. The training camp is a crash course in the first two years of university physics. Students learn at a very fast pace. They have an opportunity to hear about cutting edge research from some of the community’s leading physicists. At the end of the training camp, five students will be selected to travel to Kazakhstan for the international competition.
At Los Alamos High School, Wang is a member of the Science Bowl, Orchestra, Speech and Debate, National Honor Society and Bollywood Dance Club. His hobbies include playing violin, writing, hiking/exploring, driving with angst, programming, reading Nietzsche & Sartre & Kierkegaard, making movies, listening to music, watching TV and movies. Wang’s experience includes a USACO Finalist (2012-2013), MOSP (2013), SPARC (2013-2014), USAMTS Gold Medal (2012), National Science Bowl (2012-2014), National Who Wants to be a Mathematician (2013, 3rd place), USAMO (2011-2014), USAPhO Semifinalist (2011-2014). Also, the LANL Foundation announced Monday that wang is one of their Gold Scholars who will receive a $20,000 college scholarship.
I’ve always been inspired by discovery. I live in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where during World War II, some of the greatest scientific minds in the world came together and built the atomic bombs in the secretive Manhattan Project. Now, it’s called Los Alamos, a small enclave of about 10,000 people nestled around a national lab. It is a place of unique perspective and quirky pleasures – it is a monthly classical concert among countless PhDs and a Halloween in a science museum being taught about cryogenics.
Science and discovery have always been enthralling. From a young age, I’ve always been inspired of the profound implications of scientific discovery, from the discovery of special relativity to the invention of the transistor. Even now I don’t fully comprehend the revolutionary consequences of every discovery, but I do understand that through science, I am uniquely empowered with the ability to profoundly change the world, and that has always taken my breath away.
My involvement in contests has been empowered by that belief and driven by my love for learning and problem solving. Olympiad problems in informatics, mathematics, and physics each present significant challenges and innovative application of difficult concepts. Such problems have taught me how to attack a daunting problem and struggle with it for days on end, not settling for a mediocre or half-hearted solution. I’ve learned to hold myself to a high standard and to never give up. These values and lessons have been invaluable in achieving my goals, and I’m hugely thankful that I’ve had these challenging yet rewarding opportunities.
The uncertainty of the future has been a source of both worry and inspiration in my life. It’s worrying to know that nothing is for certain, and that no matter how hard I try, some things simply will not work in my favor. It’s worrying to know that the future is unpredictable, and it is impossible to plan out my actions for the next 10 years and magically end up achieving my goals by the end. I’ve found that such uncertainty can be a source of inspiration as well. It’s liberating to know that my life can be literally anything I make of it in 10 years, and that there are no barriers to my future. In the same vein, I must let my passions dictate my decisions and my actions, and only in that way can I be truly certain I will be proud and happy 10 years from now.
In the words of Steve Jobs: “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
These words have inspired me to follow my passions, and that road has led me here. I hope that others are similarly motivated by this idea, because it has changed the way I understand the future.
I’d like to congratulate every member of the 2014 US Physics Team on their achievement, and I’m so excited to meet all of you in Maryland! In addition, I’d like to thank my family, friends, teachers and mentors for teaching me everything I know about life. If not for their love, support, or guidance, I would have never been able to make it this far!
The members of the 2014 U.S. Physics Team are:
Eric Chen, Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, CA
Kevin Fei, Carmel High School, Carmel, IN
Calvin Huang, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto, CA
Youbin Kim, Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY
Rohan Kodialam, High Technology High School, Lincroft, NJ
Celine Liang, Saratoga High School, Saratoga, CA
Grace Lin, Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, CA
Kelvin Lu, Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA
Christina Pan, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, CA
Jaren Schaumann, John Foster Dulles High School, Sugar Land, TX
Rahul Sridhar, The Harker School, San Jose, CA
Vikram Sundar, The Harker School, San Jose, CA
Michael Winer, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD
Andrew Zhang, The Harker School, San Jose, CA
Liang Zhou, John W. North High School, Riverside, CA
Kevin Zhu, The Harker School, San Jose, CA
Licheng Zhu, Adlai Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL
The US Physics Team sponsors:
American Association of Physicists in Medicine
American Association of Physics Teachers
American Astronomical Society
American Crystallographic Association
American Meteorological Society
American Physical Society
AVS: Science & Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing
Optical Society of America
The Society of Rheology
Cambridge University Press
John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Pearson Higher Education
List of Events:
May 28 — Welcome Reception at the University of Maryland
June 4 — Congressional Visits
June 6 — Five students will be chosen to represent the U.S. Physics Team at the international competition
July 13-21 — International Physics Olympiad in Astana, Kazakhstan
July 20 — Closing Ceremony
More on the Web:
History of the physics team, including past winners: http://www.aapt.org/physicsteam/2014/program.cfm
45th International Physics Olympiad: http://ipho2014.kz/