Silver Chips Online

Senior becomes the only Intel finalist in Maryland

Frederic Koehler advances in the Intel Science Talent Research competition

By Richard Chen, Online Opinions and Entertainment Editor
February 2, 2012
On Jan. 25, senior Frederic Koehler was named the only Maryland finalist in the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search. He will compete for a $100,000 cash prize against 40 other finalists from across the country.

Koehler explains his project on batch processing and scheduling. Courtesy of
Koehler explains his project on batch processing and scheduling.
Koehler was recognized for his computer science research project, "Quick and Efficient: Fast Algorithms for Completion Time and Batch Minimization on Multiple Machines." His project dealt with creating fast algorithms for "batch processors," such as trucks and airplanes, that manage communication in large "packets." By minimizing the number of "batch jobs" for a processor, the efficiency is increased and the energy usage is minimized.

The Intel Science Talent Search is a competition organized by the Society for Science & the Public that pools together some of the country's top high school students and encourages them to pursue research opportunities. Out of the 1,839 applications they received, the Society for Science & the Public selected 300 semifinalists and then chose 40 finalists.

Koehler interned at the University of Maryland with Dr. Samir Khuller, who teaches the complexity behind computing algorithms and data mining. Under Khuller's instruction, Koehler learned how to improve batch scheduling and advance a relatively un-researched field. "My mentor was very helpful and thoughtful," Koehler said. "He posed many questions, including one at some point ended up ballooning into another significant part of my research."

While writing his research paper, Koehler paid close attention to simplifying his project for the sake of the judges critiquing his work. "Writing an easy-to-understand introduction that gives some context to your project is always a good idea to help out your readers," Koehler said. "As far as my actual paper, I wrote it more with intent to get it eventually published than for the competitions, specifically."

Magnet Program Coordinator Peter Ostrander expressed his delight in seeing Koehler make his way through Intel, but is also pleased with the effort that other students put into their projects. "I am really proud of all the students who completed their senior research projects, and winning competitions is really secondary to all the learning that is taking place," Ostrander said. "For a computer science major like myself, I was especially happy to see Freddy's project moving forward in the competition."

From Mar. 8 to 13, Koehler and the other finalists will compete in a weeklong event in Washington, D.C., where their projects will, once again, be heavily scrutinized. The winner of the competition will be announced at the National Building Museum on Mar. 13.