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Calvin Huang

Traveling Team

Palo Alto, CA

Henry M. Gunn High School

Grade: Senior


Programming, electronics, cross country, breeding dragons, playing piano, watching movies


Leader of the Controls group of the Gunn Robotics Team, math circles


IPhO Gold, Best Experiment; USAJMO Winner, Synopsys Science Fair ACM Special Award; HiMCM Finalist; Research Intern at Lockheed Martin Astrophysics Lab; Engineering Intern at Sentient Energy


In elementary school, I discovered the joy of making stuff. Around second or third grade, my dad took me to Fry's Electronics. We passed by the kits aisle, and I saw a little bag labeled "Radar detector kit", filled with blobs of plastic with wires attached, a speaker, and a little board-shaped piece with holes in it. Intrigued, I convinced my father to buy it, despite not having the faintest idea of how to assemble it or what it even did. We took it to our garage, and my father brought out a soldering iron, and showed me how to assemble the parts, and how to make the solder joints.The entire process fascinated me. The way the components fit just right, the elegant, flowing motion of the solder, the fact that I was merely putting together a puzzle, except this puzzle actually does something! At the end, I had a twisted hunk of plastic and wire, with half the components misplaced, which did nothing more than emit a low whine when it was plugged in. But at seven, I had no idea of telling whether or not it was working-the mere fact that it made noise amazed me; I would have been equally astounded had it caught on fire.

I've always loved learning about math-it came so naturally to me-but math couldn't show me how to hook a motor up to a battery, or why my subpar radar detector didn't work properly. My curiosity piqued by this mysterious circuit, I began my forays into science with thorough readings of (children's) encyclopedias, middle school physics classes, and mediocre science fair projects. As I had with math, I began delving into physics competitions, which brought me to the US Physics Camp and to the International Physics Olympiad in Denmark last year. (Note: apparently, the circuits I assembled during the IPhO worked better than the ones I made back when I was seven.) Most importantly about physics camp and IPhO, I met people with the same passions for physics-for learning how the world works-and people with similar obsessions with making things. I'm coming back this year with hopes of getting another chance to represent our country in physics (and hopefully make us proud), but also with excitement about getting to see my friends again, and to meet more people that are slated to change the world.

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