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Fox Chapel sophomore continues to add to honors

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Fox Chapel student Rishi Mirchandani won a award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Fox Chapel Area sophomore Rishi Mirchandani could probably wallpaper his bedroom with his plaques, certificates and other academic accolades.

This year alone, the 16-year-old was named a Gold Key winner in the Pittsburgh Regional Scholastic Writing Awards, won a gold medal and summa cum laude certificate on the National Latin Exam, and earned an Outstanding Performance Award in Student Congress at the North Catholic Forensic Tournament.

He also graced the legendary stage at Carnegie Hall in New York for a piano recital and performed with the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra as a Concerto Competition winner.

But the highlight of his high school career, Rishi said, is his nod at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix last week.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “It was the most amazing week of my life.

“I don't think I'll ever get to meet so many people from different countries, and who are as interested in science as I am, in one place.”

The Intel ISEF showcases high school students and their research in math, chemistry, biology and more.

Rishi qualified to advance to Arizona with a win at the Pittsburgh Regional Fair, sponsored by the Carnegie Science Center's Chevron Center for STEM Education and Career Development.

Founded in 1940, the Pittsburgh competition is the third oldest science fair in the country and aims to promote a workforce of science and technology literate up-and-comers.

Rishi was joined at the international fair by Franklin Regional student Anishaa Sivakumar and Frazier High School senior Ryan Maurer. The trio was among 1,700 students from 70 nations competing for $3 million in scholarships, internships and field trips at the world's largest pre-college science competition.

The grand prize is a trip to the Nobel Prize Ceremonies in Sweden.

“The international aspect was the most important element to me,” Rishi said. “There are countries that I've barely heard of and now I was meeting people from them.”

Rishi's project, “Superadditivity and Subadditivity in Fair Division,” earned him fourth place in math, with a $500 prize. He also took home third place and $1,000 from Mu Alpha Theta, the National High School and Two-Year College Mathematics Honor Society. That award is given to the most challenging, thorough and creative investigation of a problem involving math accessible to high school students.

Rishi said his project highlights the ways math can help out the world's difficulties.

“If there are multiple people and all desire some good, we have to find a fair way to divide up the good so everyone is satisfied,” he said.

The trick is that everyone places emphasis on the different characteristics of the good, he said.

That he earned the chance to discuss his research with professionals was validating for Rishi.

“I was talking to people who work in this field and spend their lives on similar interests as mine,” he said.

Rishi is a member of the high school's forensics and Model UN clubs and enjoys cricket.

He credits his parents for nurturing his curiosity in math and science. With his dad as a business professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Rishi's interest in numbers started at a young age, he said.

But so did his passion for music, which he considers a possible career path, Rishi said.

He studies at CMU, has won three gold medals at the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati and has performed as a soloist with the World Festival Orchestra.

“Math and music are closely connected,” he said. “Music has a math basis but then you can also add artistic preferences.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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