Five Harford County Public Schools students — including four from the Science and Mathematics Academy magnet program at Aberdeen High School — have been selected as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program's 2018 competition.
Those five high school seniors are Shourov Kundu, Joseph Mattson, Max Nguyen and Ian Tokarchik, of Aberdeen High, and Adam Del Colliano, of C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air.
Del Colliano, 17, learned of the honor Thursday when he was called to the office of CMW Principal Michael Thatcher.
"I wasn't expecting it at all," he said Friday. "I was excited when he told me. I had no idea."
About 1.6 million high school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program each year — 50,000 of those entrants are selected for recognition in the scholarship program based on their scores from the Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Tests taken during junior year in high school, according to the NMS program website.
"I think we have a pretty good shot at getting some money to pay for college," Mattson, 17, of Fallston, added.
The 7,500 scholarship winners can receive either a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, a corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship or a college-sponsored Merit Scholarship. The college and corporate scholarships are of varying amounts of money, according to the program website.
The five Harford semifinalists are all currently applying to college. Del Colliano said he plans to study engineering or physics, and the private Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. would be his "top choice."
He is part of the Project Lead The Way-sponsored four-year pre-engineering program at his school, and he and his fellow seniors are planning their Capstone projects.
Del Colliano, whose father is a civilian engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, found his passion for engineering after taking an introductory course his freshman year.
"I liked how you could basically come up with new ways to solve programs and design products to help you with those problems," he said.
A high school physics course "was so interesting to me that I knew I had to do something with physics in it," Del Colliano said.
He took part in the summer GEMS (Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science) program at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), where he learned about virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. Augmented reality allows the wearer of devices such as Google Glass to see data projected in front of their eyes as they view the real world, while virtual reality users can see a world that isn't there at all, Del Colliano explained.
"I know that's going to be involved in almost any discipline," he said of augmented reality, saying the data could eventually be viewed using a contact lens.
Del Colliano said he can envision himself working for the Army or Navy.