Super Students

Saturday, August 23, 1997

Name: Ben Schmidel
Age: 18
School: Hawaii Preparatory Academy
Pastimes: Movies, music, playing "recreational" tennis and Hacky Sack
Future: Independent scientific research

Embracing the computer age

This past year Ben Schmidel's life went into hyper drive. In June he traveled to Washington to meet the president and be honored as one of the nation's select Presidential Scholars. Just a month before he scooped several awards at the prestigious International Science and Engineering Fair.

He also received a National Merit Scholarship commendation and graduated at the top of his class at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.

"This is the end of a huge year," said his mother, Cathy. "The awards have been just flying in."

At 18, Schmidel is a computer wizard. His award-winning science project created an artificial population of males and females that evolved and learned how to communicate. During his free time this summer, Schmidel has been playing creator with another program that makes planets and solar systems using the laws of physics.

"Computers are so important in our everyday lives, and they're going to be even more so in the future," said Schmidel. "I think to be able to make, control or program them will be a very useful tool.

"This has been the most exciting year," he said. "It's really opened my eyes to what's possible." This fall Schmidel enrolls at Harvey Mudd College where he will major in computer science or electrical engineering. He also has his sights set on learning how to make robots and entering them in the robot "olympics" that several universities hold.

Alice Keesing, Star-Bulletin

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