WPI Student Named Goldwater Scholar

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Yakov Kronrod, son of Mr. And Mrs. Vladimir Kronrod of Malvern, Pa., and a junior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has been named a Goldwater Scholar for the 2001-02 academic year in recognition of his outstanding academic performance and demonstrated potential for a career in research. Before moving to Malvern, Kronrod was a longtime resident of Marietta, Ga., and a graduate of Marietta High School.The 20-year-old Kronrod, who is a double major in mathematics and computer science at WPI, is one of 302 Goldwater Scholarship winners selected from among the nearly 1,200 mathematics, science and engineering undergraduates nominated for the prestigious award by college and university faculty in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. These scholarships are awarded annually to academically outstanding sophomores or juniors who have demonstrated a high potential for and a strong commitment to a career in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering research, says Peter Hansen, professor of history and advisor for undergraduate awards at WPI.

Established by Congress in 1986 to honor the late senator, the federally endowed Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships and Excellence in Education Program seeks to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in those fields. Kronrod is the second WPI student to receive the award, which carry a $7,500 stipend to be used for tuition, fees, books, and room and board The first was Erik Alldredge '95, a physics major, who is currently a graduate research assistant at Cornell University.

"Yakov is one of the best students I have ever worked with," says Suzanne Weekes, assistant professor of mathematics at WPI, a co-adviser for Kronrod's Major Qualifying Project (MQP), "Pattern Formation in Biological Formations," completed with Megan Lally '02. The MQP, one of three required projects at WPI, is a major design or research experience in a student's major field.

"Yakov works hard, loves math, and takes the time to think about it," Weekes says. "It's not easy to be a double major, but he takes on tough, challenging courses and stays excited about his work."

Those qualities have earned Kronrod several awards recently, including a Trjitzinsky Scholarship from the American Mathematical Society and a shared Meritorious Award from the international COMAP Mathematical Modeling Contest. He and two teammates were ranked among the top 16 percent of nearly 500 teams for the optimal solution they submitted for an open-ended modeling problem. Last year, he received the Richard V. Olson Award, given by WPI to a sophomore for outstanding performance in basic mathematics courses.

"The Goldwater Scholarship is the highest honor I have ever received for my work here, but the whole experience at WPI has been a big motivating factor for me," Kronrod says. "I get to work on problems that are interesting, rewarding and real."

Kronrod, who moved to the United States from Russia with his family at age 7, was accepted at WPI after his junior year of high school. He will stay on after he graduates next year to earn a master's degree in computer science. Ultimately, his goal is to earn a doctorate in math, and to teach and conduct research in the areas of pure mathematics, mathematical modeling, and their applications in the world of computer science.