Two Students Named Intel Semifinalists

By Andrew Wroblewski

awroblewski@longislandergroup.com

Commack High School seniors Mehtaab Sawhney, second from left, and David Li, center, were named semifinalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search competition. They’re congratulated by Commack High School Principal Catherine Nolan; Commack’s Director of Science Alison Celentano; and Commack Superintendent of Schools Donald James. Photo by Brenda Lentsch

Commack High School seniors Mehtaab Sawhney, second from left, and David Li, center, were named semifinalists in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search competition. They’re congratulated by Commack High School Principal Catherine Nolan; Commack’s Director of Science Alison Celentano; and Commack Superintendent of Schools Donald James. Photo by Brenda Lentsch

Two Commack High School seniors were named semifinalists in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition earlier this month.

David Li and Mehtaab Sawhney, both 17, were two of 300 high school seniors around the nation to make the cut. They were both granted $1,000 awards from the Intel Foundation. An additional $2,000 was given to Commack High School.

On Wednesday after deadline, Li and Sawhney were expected to learn if they made the cut on the list of 40 finalists in the competition.

Li’s project, “A Wireless Tracking System for At-home Durable Medical Equipment During Natural Disasters,” seeks to create an independent system to report critical patient information and patient-location information to a local hospital during times of emergency, like natural disasters. He has worked on the project for about two years and last summer visited Washington, D.C. to present it to officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sawhney, who lives in Commack with his parents and 9-year-old sister, was honored for his project, “A Study of Bar and Arc k-Visibility Graphs.” He studied an area of mathematics that is useful in modeling “Very Large Scale Integration,” the process by which thousands of transistors are wired efficiently on a tiny computer chip, such as those found in computers and cell phones.

Sawhney said the purpose of studying the graphs is to try and cut down manufacturing costs of devices. He also said he worked on the study for a year in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s PRIMES high school research program with Jonathan Weed, an MIT graduate student.

Both Li and Sawhney also credited Commack’s science research staff, which includes Richard Kurtz, Lorraine Solomon, Jeanette Collette, Daniel Kramer, Kimberly Stiso and Andrea Beatty.

Commack Superintendent Donald James said in a statement: “Congratulations to David and Mehtaab, we’re very proud of your accomplishments and wish you luck in the next stage of the Intel Competition.”

Li and Sawhney were two of 1,750 entrants in the 75th-annual Intel Science Talent Search. Those entrants hail from 512 high schools across 43 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and six American and international high schools overseas.

Finalists in the competition will receive a free trip to Washington, D.C. from March 10-16 to compete for more than $1 million in awards. Winners will be selected based on rigorous judging sessions and announced on March 15 at ceremony in the National Building Museum.