Students excel in Mathematical Contest in Modeling

by Mark Peal on April 13, 2012

Every year undergraduate students from across the globe participate in the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM). This year, Norwich University had two teams compete against 3695 teams from 17 countries (341 US Teams). For the contest, each team selects one of two problems to work on over a five-day period in February. A summary of this year’s problems are:

A) Determining how much the leaves on a tree weigh. How might one classify leafs? Build a mathematical model to describe and classify leaves. Do shapes minimize overlapping individual shadows, or maximize exposure?

B) Create a mathematical model that would determine an optimal schedule for river trips by groups of enthusiasts with varying duration (measured in nights on the river) and the propulsion (motor or oar) that will utilize campsites in the best possible way. One constraint is that no two groups can occupy the same campsite at the same time.

During the contest each team learns about the problem and constructs a mathematical formulation for addressing the problem questions. The teams then analyze, expand, and simulate their model. Each team submits a written report describing their findings which is then evaluated by an international panel of judges, administered by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Application (COMAP).

The Norwich team comprised of Antonio Diaz (Mathematics Major) and Nicholas Michaud (Physics Major) was awarded the designation of “Honorable Mention” for their solution. This team worked on problem A) and made excellent progress in modeling the complex open-ended questions related to leaves.

When asked about his experience with the contest, Michaud stated, “I learned a lot about trees, how they grow, and common patterns that the natural world appears to follow. I also learned a lot about myself and my teammate in a stressful work environment, and methods for dealing with situations that come up.”

The team comprised of Katherine Kjeer, Jasper Barlich, and Robyn Taylor (all Mathematics Majors) was given the designation “Successful Participant”. This team also chose to work on problem A).

Robyn Taylor said, “The contest was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed working with my teammates. I was able to apply concepts that I learned in the classroom to this real world problem. I am looking forward to participating again next year.”

Each student will be given a certificate of completion from COMAP with their team’s designation.

Both teams were mentored by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Joe Latulippe.  Participation in the contest is very time consuming and stressful. Each team did a wonderful job working on their problems and with each other.

Congratulations to our participants!

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