Monday, February 14, 2011
Four teams, under the direction of Dr. Carolyn Cuff, Professor of Mathematics, and Dr. David Offner, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, represented Westminster College in the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling on Feb. 10-14, 2010.
Team participants are as follows:
• Anthony Caratelli, Beth Ekimoff, and Bobby Rhodes (Honorable Mention)
• Stephen Donnel, Amanda Gentzel, and Joshua Glasser (Successful Participant)
• Lisa Kaylor, Tim Matyas, and Aaron Zavora (Honorable Mention)
• Greg Clark, Amber Hill, and Jenna Huston (Successful Participant)
The Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) is a unique international contest designed to challenge teams of students to clarify, analyze, and propose solutions to open-ended problems. The contest attracts diverse students and faculty advisors from over 500 institutions around the world.
Two problems were downloaded by the teams on Thursday night, February 10, at 8:00 p.m.; each team chose (without consultation beyond the team) one of the problems on which to work. The teams worked throughout the weekend, around the clock, doing research, developing strategies to model the system, solving the problem, quantitatively comparing solutions, implementing these strategies on the computer, using programs to generate data, and writing the paper.
The contest is designed to provide students with an experience that is similar to that which an applied mathematician or other quantitative scientist is likely to find when working in industry or in a research laboratory. Usually the problems are chosen to model real-world situations and generally do not have a known solution, nor even a unique method of attack. One of the 2011 problems asked teams to design a snowboard course to maximize the "vertical air" achievable by a skilled snowboarder, and the other asked teams to analyze the role of repeaters in VHF radio communication.
Papers are graded on the likelihood that the method used in the proposal would lead to a reasonable solution, at least under certain simplified conditions. The write-up of the proposal is critical since the method must be clearly understood by someone reading the proposal for only a short time, and sufficient experimentation must be done to convince the reader that the approach is valid.