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Goldwater Scholarship Program recognizes two students at Illinois

4/13/2011 | Jeff Unger, News Bureau | 217-333-1085;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Justin Kopinsky, a junior at the University of Illinois, has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship for the 2011–12 academic year. Peter Fiflis, also a junior at Illinois, won honorable mention.

Kopinsky, of Buffalo Grove, Ill., is a Chancellor’s Scholar and is majoring in math and computer science. He began pursuing graduate-level math courses at Illinois as a second semester freshman. He takes part in mathematics contests and in computer science competitions. As a member of a U.S. regional team in 2010, he competed at the finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest in Harbin, China.

He is conducting research with a parallel architecture research group led by Illinois computer science professor Sarita Adve. He intends to pursue a doctorate in computer science and eventually work at a corporate lab. One of his goals is to discover ways to create affordable many-core processers for personal computers.

Fiflis, of Indian Head Park, Ill., is majoring in nuclear engineering with a concentration in plasma and fusion science and engineering. Also a Chancellor’s Scholar, Fiflis is in his third semester as a teaching assistant in the department of nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering. He has been conducting research since October 2008 at the Center for Plasma Material Interactions at Illinois. Under professor David Ruzic, the director of the center, Fiflis is investigating the feasibility and proper design of an electrostatic lithium injector for fusion devices.

He also has spent two summers at Argonne National Lab conducting research on the remote detection of radiation by millimeter waves. Fiflis intends to enter a doctoral program in nuclear engineering and continue a career in fusion research and reactor design.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, who served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. The program provides a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to sophomores and juniors from the United States who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

The 275 Goldwater Scholars for 2011-12 were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,095 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. The one and two year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

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