Winning ways


POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2009

With Philip Mocz at Harvard and his sister, Lucia, probably joining him there in the fall, competition will be open for some of the top awards at upcoming State Science and Engineering Fairs.

But the prize-winning Mocz kids have a little sister following in their footsteps. Viola, in the seventh grade at Mililani Middle School, likes math and will compete in the science fair's junior division next year.

While in the eighth grade, Lucia also competed for the first time, winning the top junior award. She also was a finalist that year in the national Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge.

She said later she did not particularly like science, that it was just a “;hobby.”; But that changed in a big way.

Lucia and her brother have taken top prizes at the state and Intel International Science and Engineering fairs since they began competing.

She placed second to her brother at the state fair in her freshman year at Mililani High School. She was second again in her sophomore year and placed first in her junior year and again this year. And they have teamed up to win some major awards.

Adding up all her scholarships, with still others pending, Lucia says college will be “;virtually free.”;

She has been accepted at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and says she is thinking of going to Harvard.

“;My brother really likes it there,”; she said.

Philip, who is one year older, has a double major in astrophysics and mathematics.

Their father, Gabor Mocz, is a University of Hawaii biochemistry professor, and their mother, Ava, is a former high school chemistry teacher. She “;semi-home-schooled”; the children, Lucia said.

“;When we came home she would give us additional assignments, especially in math, which greatly helped us advance later in school.”;

Dr. Andre Bachmann, assistant professor at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and a collaborator of Gabor Mocz, mentored Lucia and predicts Hawaii “;will continue to hear from her exceptional accomplishments in the future.”;

“;I am truly glad and proud to have young students like Lucia representing Hawaii — and, may I add, educated in the public school system — to be amongst the top in the nation,”; Bachmann said. “;It shows that with the right positive attitude, we (Hawaii) can compete with the best in our country and probably worldwide.”;

Lucia plans to major in math and computer science and wants to become a math or computer science professor. “;Perhaps I'll be both,”; she said.

Lucia plays the piano and violin, and plans to pursue music “;in great depth”; in college. “;Music is one of the things I do for fun,”; she said. “;I also greatly enjoy solving math problems and developing algorithms for simple problems in my free time.”;

What she enjoys most is playing video games, she said. “;I especially enjoy real-time strategy and role-playing games.”;


2009 Awards

Lucia Mocz's Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair awards:

» American Statistical Association, Hawaii Chapter, $100

» Armed Forces Communications/Electronics Association c/o BAE System, first place, $300 cash, certificate, one-year AFCEA membership, one-year subscription, nomination into AFCEA science fair competition

» BAE Systems Special Solutions LLC, $100

» U.S. Navy/Marines, certificate, medallion, $75 educational recognition award

» Hawaii Pacific University/senior best in category, 50 percent tuition at HPU ($7,430) for Best Computer Science Project

» U.S. Army, Tripler Army Medical Center, $100 savings bond, certificate, silver medallion

» University of Hawaii Foundation, Department of Information and Computer Science, Senior Computer Science Award, $200

» Honolulu Star-Bulletin, $250 and perpetual trophy, best public school project

» Tesoro Hawaii, best senior research project, $500, plaque and ribbon

» Intel Computer Science Award, $200 and certificate

» Sigma XI (the Scientific Research Society), $25 for first-place senior project

» Hawaiian Electric Co., International Science and Engineering Fair trip

» McInerny Foundation, $1,000 for college tuition