Summer Science Program

By Eli Haims

A group of students and faculty from the Summer Science Program named an asteroid after Brendan Kutler ’10, who  attend the program in 2009.

Kutler was a senior when he died in his sleep in December 2009.

After learning of Kutler’s death, Donald Davis, the Academic Director of SSP-Socorro, came up with the idea to name an asteroid after him.

“With the passion that the kids have for asteroids, I thought it would be appropriate to name one after him,” Davis said.

Davis contacted one of his colleagues who discovered an asteroid, and asked him if the asteroid could be named after Kutler.

Kutler’s classmates at SSP were then contacted to write a formal citation for the asteroid, which includes the name and number of the asteroid and a brief summary of Kutler.

The summary describes him as having “lifted fellow Summer Science Program alumni with his brilliance and selflessness, upbeat attitude throughout their asteroid orbit determination project.”

The citation was then submitted to and approved by the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature.

The program, which was started in 1959 in response to the launch of Sputnik, is a highly intensive six week program that focuses on math and science for 72 rising high school seniors.

SSP is an independent non-profit corporation, with ties to New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, California Institute of Technology, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It is held on the campus of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, N.M., and at Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

By the end of the program, teams of three students write a research paper predicting the orbit of an asteroid around the sun. The students take approximately six hours of classes a day in order to learn the mechanics they need to predict the orbit, according to Donald Davis, the Academic Director of SSP in 2009.