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Lafayette College sophomore Matthew H. Patton of Los Alamos, N. Mex., is one of only five computer science majors in the nation to receive a Goldwater Scholarship for the 2000-01 academic year.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. Winners are selected for academic merit. Patton is among 309 honorees from the 50 United States and Puerto Rico who were chosen from 1,176 nominated sophomores and juniors.

Patton says, “It’s an honor to be one of the 309 students in the nation chosen. This recognition, from scientists, is a message reassuring me that computer science is where my vocation lies.

“The essay for the scholarship had to be a page-and-a-half about your research and where you’d like to go in the future,” Patton explains. “I did research, starting in March 1999, with Professor Chun Wai Liew of the computer science department. I worked during that school year and then for eight weeks over the summer. We were researching parallel computing, which is when you have a bunch of computers working together. For example, Professor Rob Root of the math department is working on a project where a computer builds an animated model of a fish swimming. It’s a very complex program, so if we could make it run on multiple processors, it would run faster.

“Parallel computing is a young and undisciplined field. People are using their own wit and ingenuity to make programs work, which is more like art instead of science. I would like to formalize these programs and the problems faced by programmers,” Patton adds.

“Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs,” says Hans Mark, chairman of the board of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation,

Mark noted that recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 31 Rhodes Scholarships (six of the thirty-two awarded in the U.S. in both 1998 and 1999), 25 Marshall Awards, 8 Churchill, 9 Fulbright, 27 Hughes, 78 National Science Foundation, and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

In addition to excelling in the classroom, Patton is treasurer of the Lafayette chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is also captain of Lafayette’s varsity fencing team, and a member of the Lafayette Christian Fellowship and the Newman Association. A student of jazz piano, he plays piano for Catholic Masses and worship at Christian Fellowship meetings on campus.

During January’s interim session between regular semesters Patton studied in Israel and Jordan in a distinctive three-week course with Howard J. Marblestone, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, and Ilan Peleg, Charles A. Dana Professor of Government and Law.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, established by Congress in 1986, provides a continuing source of highly qualified individuals for academic study and research in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.

Categorized in: Academic News