Carnegie Mellon University

Image of Andre Kwon and Alexander Baikovitz

April 12, 2018

Engineering and Math Students Earn Goldwater Scholarships

Julianne Mattera
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Two Carnegie Mellon University students have received 2018 Barry Goldwater Scholarships to encourage their pursuit of research careers in math and engineering.

Alexander Baikovitz, a mechanical engineering and robotics student in CMU's College of Engineering, and Andrew Kwon, a mathematical sciences honors student in CMU's Mellon College of Science, are among 211 students to receive the scholarship this year. They were selected from more than 1,200 sophomores and juniors nationwide. Given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, the award provides up to $7,500 per year for tuition, fees, books and room and board for up to two years.

CMU has been home to 33 Goldwater scholars.

"What stands out among our Goldwater winners — Alexander Baikovitz and Andrew Kwon — is how they have taken full advantage of all the resources available at Carnegie Mellon and elsewhere to pursue their interests," said Stephanie Wallach, assistant vice provost for Undergraduate Education. "They have developed depth in their fields and built strong mentor relationships by pursuing research. They are committed to creating new knowledge and advancing their fields."

"These traits are the mark not only of a Goldwater Scholar, but they are also the mark of highly talented people with the promise of making important contributions in the future," said Richelle Bernazzoli, assistant director of Undergraduate Research and National Fellowships.

Baikovitz said the scholarship would help him toward his goal of becoming a leader in robotics and its implementation in space. The sophomore has secured an internship at SpaceX, where he will be working on their Crew Dragon structure for their crew capsule. For Baikovitz, it's "a dream come true."

"I would like to one day find myself in a place somewhere between industry and research," Baikovitz said. "I believe that is where a lot of breakthroughs and innovations are coming from."

Baikovitz's interest in robots that operate in environments inaccessible to humans drew him to CMU. He said some of his greatest influences have come from the university, where he's been able to help solve real-world problems.

"I have learned so much from my peers and my professors. Specifically, Red Whittaker, one of the pioneers of field robotics, has been a great mentor and influence on my pursuit for a career in aerospace and nuclear robotics," Baikovitz said. "It has been amazing to work with individuals who have both changed the world and changed me."

Kwon, a junior who is planning a research career in number theory and algebraic geometry, said he is excited to have his potential as a scholar and researcher recognized by the Goldwater Foundation.

Last summer, through a program funded by the National Science Foundation, Kwon conducted research under Joe Gallian at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, on a new line of inquiry in additive combinatorics, a branch of number theory that studies how sets of integers behave under addition. Kwon developed a conjecture that identified a general explanation of the properties of complementable sets. His work has been submitted for publication, and, if justified, his conjecture could explain all observed phenomena in this area of study.

Kwon helped establish the Carnegie Mellon University Informatics and Mathematics Competition, which brings high school students from across the country to CMU to compete in subject tests.

Participation has grown from 120 competitors in 2016 to 400 in 2018. Some competitors have gone on to study at CMU.

"They've told me, 'Your competition made CMU really stand out to me, and it's why I'm here now,'" Kwon said. "That's really incredible to be able to have that kind of impact."