Kelly Black, Ph.D., Department of Mathematics, University of Georgia
The problem posed in this year’s MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge examined the transition from internal combustion to electric motors in freight trucks. The first of the three questions required teams to predict what percentage of the truck fleet will be converted to electric vehicles. The second question required teams to determine the number of stations and chargers per station required for each of five specific routes if every truck were converted to an electric vehicle. The third and final question required teams to rank the five routes.
The quality of the very top papers this year is similar to that of the top papers in recent years, however the quality of the papers overall continues to improve. This overall improvement in quality has made it increasingly more difficult for judges to rank the papers. The coaches and teams continue their impressive diligence in preparing for the event. The quality of the writing continues to improve, and a larger percentage of teams is taking more care in the fundamental parts of the modeling process. For example, this year it seemed to be much more common for papers to include a basic sensitivity analysis as well as citations within the narrative and the corresponding details in a separate reference section.
In this commentary we provide some details and observations from this year’s event. The
observations represent insights into what some teams did based on a relatively small sample of the submitted reports. The observations are divided into separate sections for questions one, two, and three, and a separate section on some general modeling issues is included as well.