Nilesh Tripuraneni, a senior at Clovis West High School, is one of 40 finalists in a competition featuring the country’s most promising high school scientists.
Nilesh figured he hadn’t been selected after science-whiz buddies in other parts of the country contacted him Tuesday night and said they were finalists. But plans had been in the works all week to surprise him at school.
Officials from Intel Corp. showed up at the calculus class where Nilesh is a teacher’s assistant. They announced he had won a $5,000 scholarship and was a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s a pretty prestigious competition,” said Nilesh, 18.
Nilesh’s mom, Indira Tripuraneni, said her son tried to hide his disappointment Tuesday night, but she knew he was bothered: “He’s been wanting this his entire school career.”
He will travel to Washington, D.C., in March to compete against other finalists for the top prize of $100,000. The students will display their projects at the National Academy of Sciences and be judged on research, originality and creative thinking.
Nilesh’s project is “A Relativistic Generalization of the Navier-Stokes Equations to Quark-Gluon Plasmas.” His research explores hydrodynamic equations related to quark-gluons, a super-hot state of matter that filled the universe after the Big Bang and could have implications for understanding the origins of the universe.
Nilesh tried to explain his project to the calculus class after receiving the award, but acknowledged: “It’s kind of complicated if I give more details.”
Retired science teacher Wayne Garabedian said Nilesh excels at applying his math skills to scientific problems.
“Setbacks don’t bother him,” Garabedian said.
Nilesh has won numerous local and national science honors since middle school. He has a friendly rivalry with older brother Vinay, who attends Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Intel competition attracted 1,600 applicants. Nilesh, who will likely attend Stanford University or Princeton University, was among five finalists from California.