UB's Gifted Math Program Features Student Honored by White House

May 23, 2011 Updated May 23, 2011 at 5:11 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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UB's Gifted Math Program Features Student Honored by White House

May 23, 2011 Updated May 23, 2011 at 5:11 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- The University at Buffalo's Gifted Math program has another star of national proportions in its midst.

Williamsville East senior Bryan He is one of 40 finalists in this year's Intel Science Talent Search, earning a trip to the White House and a personal congratulations from President Obama.

He, 16, was chosen for his work on designing an algorithm that makes computer chips run faster and better. The son of a couple with math and computer expertise -- his father, Xin He, is a UB professor of computer science and engineering, and his mother, Hwa He, works at a local software company -- He is a cellist and a black belt martial artist who plans to study algorithms and artificial intelligence after he graduates from high school.

And although He's accomplishments are notable, administrators in UB's Gifted Math Program are quick to point out the program has established a proven track record of identifying promising high school math students. It then aims to challenge these students to address difficult and extended problems, to read and learn from mathematical writing and to compete and interact with students of equal ability.

"While we are proud and impressed by Bryan's accomplishment, we are not surprised," says Anne Izydorczak, administrator of the Gifted Math Program. "We are impressed every year by our graduates with their array of scholarships and achievements."

Bryan won $7,500 as one of the nation's top finalists. "It was a really
interesting experience," He told The Buffalo News. "It's important to
see how much the president cares about promoting math and science education."

He has been accepted to CalTech and will be attending next fall. His
interest in science began when he was very young, but he only started
getting interested in computers in the ninth grade.

"My algorithm makes it more efficient to plan the layout of a computer
chip," he said. "So that would make it so electrical engineers could
design computer chips that consume less energy and are less likely to overheat."

Izydorczak says the students graduating from the UB Gifted Math program include Nirav Shah, recently nominated by Gov. Cuomo to be the New York State commissioner of the Department of Health.

"We recently had our graduation ceremony," says Izydorczak. "Bryan's
classmates are going to schools that include Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, MIT, CalTech, Notre Dame, Duke, Cornell and others.

"One grad will be coming to UB on a Presidential Scholarship. They plan to study math, engineering and science, but also anthropology,
philosophy, government and business."

UB's Gifted Math Program is now in its 31st year. Almost 600 students
have graduated. The program serves students from secondary schools throughout Erie and Niagara counties.

Students are nominated in January of sixth grade by their teachers or
parents. They are accepted based on a battery of tests.

"The emphasis is not on the development of professional mathematicians, but rather on providing strong mathematical background for students who may pursue future university work in mathematics, other sciences or the humanities," says Izydorczak.

"We seek to capture the interest of young scholars at a critical time in
their development, to cultivate in them positive attitudes toward
serious academic endeavors and to encourage their development of good work habits."