The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool and as a viable and exciting profession. Participating students are encouraged to explore and bolster their mathematical modeling know-how to position themselves for success. The specific real-world problem that is posed each year is entirely unknown to participants until they login during Challenge weekend. The Challenge is entirely Internet-based with no registration or participation fees. High schools in the U.S. (including US territories and DoDEA schools) may enter up to two teams of three to five junior and/or senior students; homeschool and cyber school students may also participate. Winners receive scholarship prizes totaling $150,000!
Flexible work time: All teams will work in or convert their local time to Eastern Standard Time and will download the problem anytime during Challenge weekend to begin their 14 consecutive hours of work. In 2017 Challenge weekend is February 24 at 12:00 noon EST through February 27 at 8:00 a.m. EST. Once the problem is downloaded, the team’s 14-hour clock starts and it cannot be paused; students should download the problem with at least 14 hours before the end of Challenge weekend to have use of the full 14 hours allowed. Teams can work from any location they choose and can use any free and publicly available resources, but they may not discuss any aspect of the problem with, or seek help from, their coach or anyone other than their teammates via any medium. See Official Rules and Guidelines for complete details.
More than 225 Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians serve as judges throughout three rounds of judging. Coaches and teams are notified in April of the judging results. Teams selected for the top six prizes are required to present their papers at the confirmation (third) round of judging in New York City to determine the final rank-order of those papers. Expenses are paid according to winning teams travel and expense guidelines.
The top six prize-winning teams receive scholarship awards ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, which are divided equally among team members and paid directly to the colleges or universities at which they enroll. Semi-finalist and honorable mention winners (more than 80 awards) receive team prizes of $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.
The Challenge was first conducted in 2006 in the New York City metropolitan area and after a series of managed expansions is now available throughout the entire U.S. and its territories.
M3 Challenge is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including: placement on the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ National Advisory List of Student Contests & Activities since 2010; 2009 ASAE Associations Advance America (AAA) Award of Excellence; 2008 Excellence Award from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP). The Challenge also holds membership in the National Scholarship Providers Association.