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Best and Brightest 2017: Mathematician likes to share knowledge, talent

By: Robin INTEMANN Special to The Gazette
April 20, 2017 Updated: April 20, 2017 at 3:53 pm
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This is the fifth of 20 profiles of The Gazette's Best and Brightest Class of 2017.

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Anyone who's ever been a member of a marching band knows the hassle of dealing with multiple sheets of music while playing an instrument and moving in formation in front of a crowd. Justin Dieter knew there had to be a better way, so he created an app.

Dieter likes to share - especially his knowledge and musical talent. The app, Drill for Marching Band, is one way he showcases both.

"Marching bands traditionally have a show, made up of different shapes, on a football," he said. "Someone has to create where everyone needs to be and coordinate it with the music. That meant everyone had lots of sheets (of paper). That wasn't super efficient. What I did was input all the information into an app since everyone has a phone."

Dieter said he'd been thinking about making some kind of app for a while. It started with what he called "something to practice with" and has evolved into more 30,000 downloads from around the world.

He challenges himself to learn more so he can share what he absorbs. This is what drives the 18-year-old bound for Stanford University. He excels in math. Not only has he aced the advanced placement and honors courses in high school, he's been enrolled in math classes at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs since 2014. This year he's in graduate level courses.

Pine Creek High School college career counselor Stephanie Cornelio wrote, "Justin is the one student who has sought more opportunities in the field of mathematics than anyone I have ever witnessed."

Dieter founded a math tutoring program to assist students with school work and preparation for the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. He donated the money he earned to the Khan Academy, a nonprofit educational organization.

His passion for music isn't just about creating apps. Dieter plays clarinet and saxophone; he's particularly attracted to jazz. "Improvising in jazz and coming up with new ideas is a lot like problem solving in math," he explained. "They both involve a lot of the same thought processes."

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