2012: Judging Perspective

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This year's competition featured the most difficult problem to date. The student teams were asked to evaluate and prioritize the locations across the United States for the construction of a new high speed rail system. The teams were given three tasks including the requirement to bring their models together to make a single conclusion for a prioritized list of sites.

The set of tasks could not be fully addressed in the allotted time. That is the nature of modeling activities, though, and one of the primary aspects of this year's event was for students to decide how to simplify the model and make difficult decisions on what aspects to focus their efforts. Student teams that were able to strike the difficult balance between simplifying the physical situation and performing the requisite analysis on their resulting models achieved the most success.

Students are expected to submit papers that are well written. The ability to communicate non-trivial models is as important as the development of the models themselves. The entries are expected to include a complete and well structured introduction as well as a complete description of the model and a clear description of how the team achieved its results.

The entries that made it to the final rounds of the competition included a strong analysis component. The best papers included models with approaches that ranged from quite simple to highly sophisticated. The one thing that set them apart from the rest of the field, though, was the critical analysis of the team's model.

The full commentary includes observations from one judge as well as a description of the judging process. The commentary includes a broad overview of some of the aspects of the entries that were likely to elicit a negative reaction from a judge, and the commentary also includes a list of some of the aspects that were likely to elicit a positive reaction. This year a separate section is included on the use of references and citations.