Ashutosh Singhal, a senior at Holmdel High School in Holmdel, New Jersey, was among the two national winners in the 10th Annual Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement for his top performance among United States high school students in the Advanced Placement science and math courses for the year 2007-2008.
The winners were selected from among the 97 students in 50 states, including 85 high school seniors and 12 high school juniors, who were chosen as state winners in the award programme sponsored by the Siemens Foundation and run by the College Board, which administers the AP program.
The national winners -- a girl and a boy -- are each awarded a $5,000 college scholarship.
Tianhui Cai, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, was the other national winner.
The state winners -- also one boy and one girl in each state -- receive a $2,000 scholarship each.
State winners included Varun Krishnan of Altamont School, Birmingham, Alabama; Sriram Velamuri of North Springs High School, Atlanta, Georgia; Malavika Balachandran of McKinley Senior High School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Kunal Mehta of Detroit Country Day, Beverly Hills, Michigan; Deepa Chari of Blake School, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Shankari Rajagopal of Churchill County High School, Fallon, Nevada; Shivani Sud of Charles E Jordan Senior High School, Durham, North Carolina; Vivek Bhattacharya of William G Enloe High School, Raleigh, North Carolina; Ashok Bhaskar of Conestoga High School, Berwyn, Pennsylvania, and Srihari Sritharan of Laramie Senior High School, Laramie, Wyoming.
"The award is a great honour, and I owe it to the encouragement that my teachers, friends, and family provide to strive for new achievements," national winner Ashutosh, son of Anoop and Radha Singhal of Holmdel, told Rediff India Abroad.
Ashutosh, 17, is interested in mainly mathematics and the sciences. He was an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist, Siemens Research Competition semifinalist, National Merit Scholar finalist, and United States Physics Olympiad semifinalist this year.
He participated in the Research Science Institute and was a semifinalist in the USA Biology Olympiad and the US National Chemistry Olympiad last year.
He is co-editor-in-chief of his school newspaper, plays the clarinet, and is a member of the school's cross country team for the past four years.
"The most important thing is to be interested in what you are studying," is his advice to his fellow students. "If you like what you're studying, you'll have the focus and dedication to learn it well."
The winners for the award are selected for earning the greatest number of grades of 5 on the following AP courses: Biology, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Computer Science AB, Environmental Science, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, and Physics C: Mechanics, and Statistics. Students must obtain a grade of 5 on at least two of these exams to qualify.
"AP courses helps the students challenge themselves and provide an edge in their first year of college. AP exams are valid measures of students' content master of college-level studies in specific academic disciples, but should never be used as a sole measure for gauging educational excellence and equity," according to the College Board.
Seventy-five percent of high school graduates are estimated to enter college. The total number of high school graduates in the US public school class of 2007 was 2,809,202. Among them 698,182 had taken an AP exam at some point in high school, of which 425,733 earned a 3 or higher on an AP exam.
A grade of 3 or more is a strong predictor of a student's ability to persist in college and earn a bachelor degree. Grades of 5 are equivalent to A grades in the corresponding college courses.
Singhal started taking AP courses during his sophomore year "because I wanted to take advantage of the many academic opportunities that my school offers."
He became interested in mathematics and science after doing activities that focused on these subjects in elementary and middle school.
"In addition, both my parents have strong backgrounds in science and engineering," he told the organisers.
As part of the programme, the Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement also recognize Math, Science and Technology teachers in the states, as well as high schools in each state that have made significant strides in AP scores.
Established in 1998, the Siemens Foundation provides more than $2 million in college scholarships and awards each year for talented high school students in the US.
Based in Iselin, New Jersey, the foundation's signature programmes are the Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement and the Siemens Teacher Scholarships.
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the association comprises more than 5,400 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organisations.