Participation in an intensive, online international math competition has added up to a first-place win for a group of Wisconsin high school students.
The team of four 11th and 12th graders from Homestead High School in Mequon took home the top prize of $20,000 in college scholarships, out of the total $100,000+ being awarded, after being chosen as winners during the final event in New York City on April 25. Thousands of high school juniors and seniors across the U.S. and sixth form students in the U.K. vied for distinction in this year’s MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge (M3 Challenge), a prestigious competition that demonstrates the importance of math in everyday life.
Winners Adam Garsha, Jacob Schmidman, Eric Wan, and Ethan Wang were among nearly 2,700 students working in 612 teams, who participated in this year’s M3 Challenge.
Now in its 17th year, the 2022 M3 Challenge saw students spend 14 consecutive hours in late February using mathematical modeling to solve a real-world problem by collecting data and creating models, developing insight on the problem, and submitting their solutions online. This year’s competition asked students to use math modeling to predict the future of remote work, analyzing the percent of jobs that are remote-ready and whether workers in those jobs will be willing or able to work remotely, then determining the percentage of workers who will go remote in a given city or metro area.
Of the hundreds of participating teams, eight finalist teams were selected from across the U.S., England and Wales, after having their submissions judged by an international panel of Ph.D.-level mathematicians.
A program of Philadelphia-based Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and sponsored by MathWorks, the leading developer of mathematical computing software for engineers and scientists, M3 Challenge is designed to spotlight the relevancy and power of mathematics in solving real-world issues, as well as motivate students to consider further education and careers in applied mathematics, computational and data sciences, and technical computing.
“What sets M3 Challenge apart from other math competitions is that it uniquely requires students to use math modeling as a process to represent, analyze, make predictions and provide insight into current phenomena,” said Michelle Montgomery, M3 Challenge Program Director at SIAM. “We pose big problems about real issues that many students may not know much about. They need to research, quantify the parameters, organize data, and use skills they’ve learned in math class but may have never related to something real.”
Montgomery explained that the international nature of the competition gives students the opportunity to compete on the world stage, resulting in added prestige for the winning teams. “Every year without fail, we hear from participating students who refer to their participation in M3 Challenge as a life-changing experience that helped open their eyes to how important, useful, and valuable the application of mathematics can be,” she said.
Runners-up in the competition are Winnetka, Illinois-based New Trier Township High School students Aruni Chenxi, Nika Chuzhoy, Max Hartman, Connor Lane, and Nathan Liu, who split a $15,000 scholarship prize. Third place winners are Osprey, Florida-based Pine View School students Nolan Boucher, Uday Goyat, John Halcomb, Max Rudin, and Lisa Zhang, who shared $10,000 in scholarship funds. Finalist teams from Adlai E Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois and High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey also received team scholarship prizes of $5,000 each. (See full list of winners.)
The winners were announced following a rigorous, six-week-long, three-round blind judging process engaging 150 applied mathematicians.
Additional recognitions and scholarships were also given, including the Technical Computing Winner prize of $3,000 to Osprey, Florida-based Pine View School; Technical Computing Runner-up prize of $2,000 to Lincroft, New Jersey-based High Technology High School; and Technical Computing Third Place prize of $1,000 to Huntsville, Alabama-based New Century Tech High School. These supplementary awards recognize and reward students for their outstanding use of programming to analyze, design, and conceive a solution.
At the conclusion of the team presentations, one team was recognized for exemplary explanation of their work, using clarity, presence, and polish in their live presentations. The Outstanding Communication of Results prize of $500 was given to the team representing New Century High School from Huntsville, Alabama.
“M3 Challenge has been an incredible experience, and winning is just an indescribable feeling,” said Jacob Schmidman from the champion team, which was coached by Weizhong Wang, a mathematics teacher at Homestead High School. “What made our paper really great was that we focused much less on the mathematics, and more on making our answer well-rounded and robust, considering a multitude of factors.”
According to Coach Wang: “It is truly amazing for us to have won after our school has participated for many years. Our students showcased enthusiasm and passion when they presented, and I’m extremely proud of them.”
The final validation judging panel included professional mathematicians Kelly Black, Ph.D., University of Georgia; Karen M. Bliss, Ph.D., Virginia Military Institute; Katie Kavanagh, Ph.D., Clarkson University; Cleve Moler, Ph.D., MathWorks; Chris Musco, Ph.D., New York University.
The entries were narrowed down to six finalists, six semi-finalists, and 22 honorable mentions. Three Technical Computing awards, plus three Technical Computing honorable mention awards, were overlaid on top of any other distinction earned. In total, about six percent of entrants were distinguished with scholarship prizes.
For more information about M3 Challenge, visit m3challenge.siam.org.
About Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an international society of more than 14,000 individual, academic and corporate members from 90+ countries. SIAM helps build cooperation between mathematics and the worlds of science and technology to solve real-world problems through publications, conferences, and communities like chapters, sections and activity groups. Learn more at siam.org.
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