New Jersey Students Win Top Spot in National Math Competition for Best Solution to Control Spread of Substance Abuse in America

New Jersey Students Win Top Spot in National Math Competition for Best Solution to Control Spread of Substance Abuse in America

April 30, 2019

Philadelphia, PA — A group of New Jersey 11th and 12th graders were selected among thousands of high school students across America as the winners of a prestigious national competition that demonstrates the importance of math in everyday life. The team of five from High Technology High School took home the top prize of $20,000 in college scholarships in the MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge during the final event in New York City on Monday, April 29. 

M3 Challenge 2019 High Technology High School champion team members (from the left) Jason Yan, Gustav Hansen, Emily Jiang, Eric Chai, and Kyle Lui celebrate their win.

Eric Chai, Gustav Hansen, Emily Jiang, Kyle Lui and Jason Yan were among 4,200 students — working in 877 teams — participating in the Challenge, which involved using mathematical modeling to recommend solutions to the spread of substance abuse in the U.S. A total of $100,500 was up for grabs, divided among the finalist teams and top performers nationally.

Organized by Philadelphia-based Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and sponsored by MathWorks, a 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 STEM subjects. Participants were given 14 consecutive hours on a March weekend to study the issue in question, collect data and devise models before uploading their solutions online.

First runners-up in the competition are Rockville, Maryland-based Richard Montgomery High School students Matt Kolodner, Clarissa Xia, Jack Yang, Laura Yao and Lauren Zhou who split a $15,000 scholarship prize. Third place winners are Glendale, Wisconsin-based Nicolet High School students Zach Godkin, Gabe Guralnick, Savir Maskara and Ryan Mortonson, who shared $10,000 in scholarship funds. Finalist teams from Academy for Science and Design in Nashua, New Hampshire, Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, and Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minnesota, received team scholarship prizes of $5,000 each. (See link below for a full list of winners).

After a rigorous, six-week long, blind judging process engaging 150 applied mathematician judges, the six finalist teams were notified of their exalted status and invited to present their solutions, live and all expenses paid, in New York City. The final judging panel included four long-time Challenge judges and problem developers.

Additional recognitions were also given, including an M3 Technical Computing Scholarship prize of $3,000 for Durham, North Carolina-based North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, $2,000 for Nashua, New Hampshire-based Academy of Science and Design, and $1,000 for Lincroft, New Jersey based High Technology High School. These supplementary awards were presented to recognize and reward the students for their outstanding use of programming to analyze, design and conceive a solution. An Outstanding Communication of Results Award of $500 was also awarded to Nicolet High School – the team with the presentation that was deemed most impressive.

“Last year I was fortunate to be a finalist. Another teammate and I chose to do M3 Challenge again. That just shows how valuable we think it is. It allows us to do what we love – math and STEM – and apply it to a real-world competition. Winning recognizes our effort and it means a lot,” said Eric Chai from the champion team, which was coached by Raymond Eng, a mathematics teacher at High Technology High School. “Participating in M3 Challenge opened my eyes to fields in applied math that I didn’t know about before. It has allowed me to consider new career possibilities. It helped me to work well within a team. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before, working under pressure.” 

“The team benefited from being exposed to a real-life problem that they would encounter in their professional life,” said coach Eng. “The kids worked very hard and chose perseverance and determination. Winning this contest is for those who think outside the box.”

“We pose big problems about real issues that many students may not know much about. They need to quantify and organize data, identify and use skills they’ve learned in math class — and may have never related to something real or thought they could use before,” said Michelle Montgomery, M3 Challenge Project Director at SIAM. “Participation in M3 Challenge can change lives — helping students to see that math skills can lead to important and valuable work and impactful differences and predictions for their communities and even the world.”

Members of the final judging panel included professional mathematicians Karen M. Bliss, Ph.D., Virginia Military Institute; Kelly Black, Ph.D., University of Georgia; Kathleen Kavanagh, Ph.D., Clarkson University; and Candice Price, Ph.D., University of San Diego.

Prior to Monday’s judging round, held at the offices of quantitative trading firm Jane Street in Manhattan, nearly 900 student submissions were assessed. The entries were ultimately narrowed down to six finalists, six semi-finalists, and 22 honorable mentions. Three M3 Technical Computing Awards were overlaid on top of any other distinction. In total, about four percent of entrants were distinguished with scholarship prizes.

For more information about MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge, visit  

View the 2019 winning solutions and full list of winning teams here:

About MathWorks

MathWorks is the leading developer of mathematical computing software. MATLAB, the language of technical computing, is a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numeric computation. Simulink is a graphical environment for simulation and Model-Based Design for multidomain dynamic and embedded systems. Engineers and scientists worldwide rely on these product families to accelerate the pace of discovery, innovation, and development in automotive, aerospace, electronics, financial services, biotech-pharmaceutical, and other industries. MATLAB and Simulink are also fundamental teaching and research tools in the world's universities and learning institutions. Founded in 1984, MathWorks employs more than 4,500 people in 16 countries, with headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, USA. For additional information, visit

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

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