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The 2007 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team 

They shine brightly.

click to enlarge CAUSES COUNT: For Nicole Topich.
  • CAUSES COUNT: For Nicole Topich.

It’s the 13th edition of our program to honor 20 of the highest academic achievers in Arkansas. Given their records, we think you’ll agree it’s anything but unlucky to be among this number.

You’ll find a wide array of talents among our winners, but remember that academic excellence — grades, test scores and academic competition — is what the judges are looking for.

We invited nominations from every high school in Arkansas, public and private. Each school may submit one male and one female nominee. Two rounds of judging produce the winners, and we’ll also tell you those who achieved finalist status, but not the final cut.

The winners are to be honored at a ceremony this week at UALR, a sponsor of this competition from the beginning. They will receive plaques and cash awards. We’ve given out $65,000 so far.

The winners, if the past is a judge, are future winners of prestigious fellowships, doctors, lawyers, teachers and more.

Expect to see some of our winners on television. Our All-Star partner, the Arkansas Educational Television Network, will be filming our awards ceremony and also broadcasting profiles of some of this year’s winners.

The 2007 winners:

CALEB EGGENSPERGER

Age: 17

Hometown: Cabot

School: Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

Parents: Steve and Tami Eggensperger

College plans: Drexel, Tulane, Georgia Tech, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, computer science

Gadget whiz

It’s a little difficult explaining why Caleb Eggensperger stands out from the crowd. Not because he doesn’t stand out — but because what he does is a mystery to those of us who don’t speak Google or computer. See, he’s got an API. That’s an application program interface, which computer programmer types use to create new applications for their operating environments, like Windows. And (in plain English) with that API, Caleb created a really cool thing: a computer gadget that lets you count down to a particular date, like (as he did, in 2005) when Christmas vacation starts.

He sent his countdown gadget to Google, which collects such things, and the next thing he knew it was proclaimed the No. 1 new gadget by Google and the then-16-year-old was on his way to California for an award presentation. (The Googlers were a little surprised at Caleb’s tender years, since most gadgets are designed by grown-up computer programmers, he said.) Now, Caleb anticipates getting an internship with Google the summer after his freshman year at the college he eventually decides on — his first choice is Drexel. And after college? He wants to be a computer programmer, of course, or what he calls a “system architect.”

Caleb’s more recent claim to fame was his designation as the only Arkansas student to win the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement, based on his AP science and math exams. It was worth $2,000 in scholarship cash.

In the essay he submitted for All-Star consideration Caleb raves not just about computers but about the School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts. It took a few years, but he finally convinced his parents to let him go off to the Hot Springs boarding school, which had to create new math courses — vector calculus and quantum mechanics — for him and a few other whizzes there who’d taken all the other maths. “Through ASMSA, I’ve competed against other colleges in Arkansas in a programming contest (and beat them), spent 36 hours straight working on a math modeling problem ..., measured the speed of light to within a hundredth of a meter per second and beamed a sound signal across a room with a laser beam. ... I wouldn’t trade my experiences at ASMSA for anything.”

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