Student taking classes at Lehigh since age 14 prepares to graduate

Matthew Kilgore, '15, gives a presentation during MATH 329, Computability Theory, on Monday, April 28, 2015 at Maginnes Hall. The presentation explained Hilbert's Tenth Problem. (Alexander Drusda/B&W photo)

Matthew Kilgore, ’15, gives a presentation during MATH 329, Computability Theory, on Monday, April 28, 2015 at Maginnes Hall. The presentation explained Hilbert’s Tenth Problem. (Alexander Drusda/B&W photo)

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, it stated that Matthew Kilgore began taking classes at Lehigh when he was 16 years old. He was 14 years old when he began his time at Lehigh.

Beginning his career at Lehigh at the age of 14, Matthew Kilgore is graduating this May with a list of achievements that will further his already prevalent success.

In addition to being a graduate student as well as an Eckardt Scholar at Lehigh, Kilgore has been able to develop academic relationships from a young age within both the mathematics and computer science departments. Kilgore has also been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the fall.

Cheryl Ashcroft, the assistant dean of Academic Support Services, first met Kilgore in 2009 when he was 14 and started his education at Lehigh through the high school scholar program. Lehigh selects individuals every year for this program with the aim of motivating students to attend and excel at college.

“Matt is a very intelligent, motivated and driven student,” Ashcroft said. “His passion for learning and his intellectual curiosity is unmatched.”

For all his achievements, Kilgore is grateful to Lehigh for the academic environment it has provided for his success. He said Lehigh has helped him succeed in many ways, and he has become close with the math department because he’s been working with them since he was in seventh grade.

Jesse Kurtz, ’15, a computer science major, has worked with Kilgore under the department, and credits both his academic abilities and personality to his success.

“His attention to the detail and ability to break large ideas into smaller, more manageable pieces are the two characteristics that stood out to me most during my experience with him,” Kurtz said. “We were in the same senior project class last fall semester, and I just remember him doing a good job at explaining his project fully with distinct components that were easy to follow and understand. Overall, he just seemed like a friendly and respectful guy that does a good job communicating the ideas he tries to express.”

As an Eckardt Scholar, Kilgore also lists the program’s flexibility as a reason for his success. It enabled him to focus on math and computer science, and the two required seminar courses allowed him to explore topics he wouldn’t normally be able to study, he said.

In September, Kilgore will attend MIT to pursue his doctorate in the electrical engineering and computer science program as an Akamai Presidential Scholar. He will be working under Charles Leiserson, a prominent computer scientist who was an author to the academic book “Introduction to Algorithms.”

“I think that will be a great opportunity for Matthew to really focus in on a specific topic within CS and start dissecting all of the finer details that you don’t have time for in your standard CS college career,” Kurtz said.

Kilgore said he’s excited about it because his goal is to have a career in research. He has also done research with professor Michael Spear in the Computer Science and Engineering department on transactional memory, visibly pushdown grammars research with professor Gang Tan, and has also worked with professor Don Davis.

“I’m doing research with professor Davis on lattices of subsets of the integers,” Kilgore said. “Professor Davis has been my mentor and adviser since I arrived at Lehigh, and has given me invaluable advice on matters from course selection to research to navigating Lehigh’s bureaucracy.”

Ashcroft believes Kilgore has been mentored by many faculty during his time at Lehigh. At the age of 14, he became involved with the High School Math League Team, and she said Davis was influential in encouraging Kilgore to come to Lehigh.

Kurtz also explained that the computer science department creates an environment that allows students like Kilgore to thrive. He believes the computer science program and environment teaches students how to solve problems through critical and creative thinking. The program teaches students how to learn ideas on their own to overcome problems, he said. Kilgore believes they’ve been great advisers.

“He has been a real asset to our community and I will truly miss him and his parents as he makes the transition to MIT next year,” Ashcroft said.

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