Dr. Ben Fusaro, FSU Math Professor, continues his participation in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

Dr. Ben Fusaro, FSU Math Professor, continues his participation in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge

May 22, 2008

Dr. Ben Fusaro, adjunct professor of mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at Florida State University and a longtime advocate for educational issues, recently participated in the judging for Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge 2008. Fusaro, a college professor for 50 years, combines his mathematical expertise with his interest in students at all levels by continuing his involvement in the M3 Challenge. Dr. Fusaro, who is well known as founder of the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) for collegians, was instrumental in developing the groundwork for the M3 Challenge. Fusaro, in conjunction with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and co-consultant and this year's lead judge, Dr. Leon Seitelman, formulated processes for the contest, with particular emphasis on problem development and judging.

The M3 Challenge, now in its third year, is an Internet-based applied mathematics competition that requires high school students in the Boston, New York, and Philadelphia metropolitan and surrounding areas to solve an open-ended, realistic, challenging modeling problem focused on real-world issues, all in 14 hours. At the Final Presentations and Awards Ceremony on April 30, the contest awarded a total of $65,000 in college scholarships to 50 high school junior and seniors.

This year's problem "Energy Independence Meets the Law of Unintended Consequences" required participants to examine unplanned outcomes associated with diverting part of the food crop to the production of ethanol for gasoline.

Members of the top six teams are required to present their winning solutions to a panel of professional applied mathematicians, including Fusaro, at the Moody's Corporation headquarters during validation judging. Judging for the Challenge features a rigorous, intense, three-step process by professional Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians and modelers. The judging sequence begins with math professionals doing "triage" judging at two locations, including FSU. Selected solution papers undergo multiple readings, with judges eliminating about three-fourths of the papers from further judging. The "round two" judging involves additional readings of each paper and convergence to a tentative ranking of winners. The presentations and validation process then determines the final rank of the six winning papers. Until the presentation round, judging is blind.

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About the Challenge

The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool, as a viable and exciting profession, and as a vital contributor to advances in an increasingly technical society. Scholarship prizes total $65,000. The Challenge is entirely Internet-based and there are no entrance or participation fees. Each high school may enter up to two teams of three to five students each. Students choose which day they wish to work on Challenge weekend and have 14 hours to solve an open-ended, realistic, applied math-modeling problem focused on real-world issues. 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.

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) awarded Moody's Corporation a 2008 Excellence Award for Moody's Mega Math Challenge, citing the company's "sophisticated giving program that encourages students to develop a passion for mathematics, economics, and finance."

About the Sponsor

The Moody's Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting a variety of nonprofit education, health and human services, civic, and arts and culture programs. Established by Moody's Corporation in 2001, the Foundation's primary area of giving is secondary and higher education with a focus on mathematics, economics and finance. Further information is available at http://philanthropy.moodys.com.

Moody's Corporation (NYSE: MCO), an essential component of the global capital markets, provides credit ratings, research, tools and analysis that contribute to stable, transparent and integrated financial markets. Moody's Corporation is the parent company of Moody's Investors Service and Moody's Analytics, encompassing Moody's non-ratings businesses. With revenues of $2.3 billion in 2007, Moody's employs approximately 3,600 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 27 countries. Further information is available at www.moodys.com.

About the Organizer

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, is an international society of over 11,000 individual members. These include applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners from 85 countries in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes more than 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 www.siam.org.

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