Top teams face final hurdle in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

Top teams face final hurdle in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

More than 425 high school students will receive scholarships for their models of new approaches to car sharing and driving technology; top prize decisions to be made on April 25

March 22, 2016

Automakers are investing millions in developing new technologies to meet the demands of consumers who want the benefits of using a private car without the costs and responsibilities of owning one. The rapidly-changing landscape of the automotive industry, in which automakers are transforming themselves from car builders into “mobility companies,” was the focus of this year’s Moody’s Mega Math (M3) Challenge, an annual applied math contest in which high school students use mathematical modeling to devise solutions to relevant everyday issues.

Working in teams, students used publicly available information and data on consumer driving habits and emerging automotive industry technologies to build mathematical models categorizing the car usage habits of drivers in the US. They then used their models to evaluate car-sharing business options, taking into account new technologies that are close to entering the mainstream including self-driving cars and vehicles that run entirely on alternative fuel or renewable energy, and then predicted which option would garner the most participation in a given city.

“The car-sharing market is about to be completely transformed as new technologies emerge,” says Karen Bliss, assistant professor of applied mathematics at Virginia Military Institute and M3 Challenge director of contention judging. “It's exciting to see how students think about how these changes will affect the way we live our lives, and to do so through the lens of mathematical modeling, where they can quantify those changes and make predictions. We had a big job in front of us this year as we narrowed the field down to the top papers. This year’s question didn't lead to just one type of mathematical model, so the judges had to really dig into the students' models and discern the merits of each.”

Of the 1,084 solution submissions, just 174 advanced to the second round of judging that took place this past weekend in Philadelphia, where judges identified 90 teams that will receive a share of the $150,000 in scholarship prizes offered by The Moody's Foundation, the contest sponsor.

The top six teams (below) will square off against one another on Monday, April 25, in the final phase of judging at Moody’s Corporation headquarters in Manhattan where they will present their findings to, and answer questions from, a panel of professional applied mathematician judges to determine the final rank order.

“This year, under varying assumptions about the availability of transportation options, students had a chance to look at how companies are capitalizing on how we move around in cities,” says Kelly Black, math faculty at University of Georgia in Athens, and head of the first round of triage judging for the Challenge. “A generational shift with respect to it becoming increasingly more common to find people placing a higher value on their phone than their car also emerged.”

The top six awards, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, will go to the Finalist teams representing the following high schools, listed here in alphabetical order:

Carmel High School (Team # 7733), Carmel, Indiana
Coach: Peter Beck
Students: Simon Langowski, Miles Dai, Joseph Philleo, Tiger Huang

Governor Livingston High School (Team # 7497), Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Coach: Steven Hess
Students: Niyant Narang, Gianna Miggins, Michael Wu, Anna Song, Alexander Ju

La Salle Academy (Team #6617), Providence, Rhode Island
Coach: Michael McNamara
Students: Allison, Paul, Joshua Reno, Eileen Phou, Audrey Cryan, Eric Salisbury

Montgomery Blair High School (Team # 7138), Silver Spring, Maryland
Coach: William Rose
Students: Raymond, Lin, Ethan Holland, Victoria Tsai, Jamie Vinson, Eshan Tewari

NC School of Science and Mathematics (Team # 7412), Durham, North Carolina
Coach: Dan Teague
Students: Simon Marland, Vinit Ranjan, Katherine, Yang, Sunwoo Yim, Kelly Zhang

Saint John's School (Team # 6811), Houston, Texas
Coach: Dwight Raulston
Students: Margaret Trautner, Eric Gao, Anirudh Suresh, Daniel Shebib, Nancy Cheng

Six additional teams, whose papers underwent in-depth discussion by judges but missed making it into the top six, will be recognized with Semi-Finalist Team Prizes of $1,500 each:

Academic Magnet High School (Team #7901), North Charleston, South Carolina, Coach: Gwen Hooffstetter

Adlai E. Stevenson High School (Team #6411), Lincolnshire, Illinois, Coach: Paul Kim

High Technology (Team #7009), Lincroft , New Jersey, Coach: Ellen LeBlanc

NC School of Science and Mathematics (Team #7411), Durham, North Carolina, Coach: Dan Teague

Newton South High School (Team #7508), Newton, Massachusetts, Coach: Steven Rattendi

Pine View School (Team #6610), Osprey, Florida, Coach: Christine DeVeau

Teams representing an additional 78 schools will be awarded Honorable Mention Team Prizes of $1,000 each for noteworthy solutions.

Organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), M3 Challenge gives high school students the opportunity to answer broad questions by applying mathematics and quantifying the related variables, and encourages them to study and pursue careers in science and math. The Challenge is free, requiring only accessibility to the Internet.

To view the complete problem statement, visit For more information about the Challenge, see


About the Sponsor
Built on the recognition that a company grows stronger by helping others, The Moody’s Foundation works to enhance its communities and the lives of its employees by providing grants and engaging in community service in local neighborhoods. The Moody’s Foundation, established in 2002 by Moody’s Corporation, partners with nonprofit organizations to support initiatives such as education in the fields of mathematics, finance, and economics, as well as workforce development, civic affairs, and arts and culture. For more information, please visit


About the Organizer
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an international society of over 14,000 individual members, including applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members from 85 countries are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes nearly 500 academic and corporate institutional members, serves and advances the disciplines of applied mathematics and computational science by publishing a variety of books and prestigious peer-reviewed research journals, by conducting conferences, and by hosting activity groups in various areas of mathematics. SIAM provides many opportunities for students including regional sections and student chapters. Further information is available at

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