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Westminster College Mathematics Students Participated in Putnam Mathematical Competition

Posted on Thursday, January 9, 2014

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Three Westminster College students participated in the 74th Annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition Dec. 7

Participating Westminster students were:

Gregory Clark, a senior mathematics major, is a son of Jeffrey and Shari Clark of Cranberry Township and a graduate of Seneca Valley High School.

John Griebel, a junior mathematics and computer science major, is a son of John and Jackie Griebel of Marble and a graduate of Keystone High School.

Emily Walther, a December 2013 graduate who majored in mathematics, is a daughter of Jeff and Brenda Walther of Washington and a graduate of Trinity High School.

The Putnam Exam is a challenging individual mathematical exam which is taken by thousands of undergraduate students specializing in mathematics in the U.S. and Canada on the first Saturday in December each year.  Noted for its rigor, the exam's median score is usually one or two points out of 120 possible. There have even been years when the median score was zero nationally.  The five highest ranking individuals are designated Putnam Fellows by the Mathematical Association of America. 

Putnam Exam participants attempt to solve 12 problems, which can typically be solved with only basic knowledge of college mathematics, but which require extensive creative thinking.  Each of the 12 questions is worth ten points, and the most frequent scores above zero are 10 points for a complete solution, nine points for a nearly complete solution, and one point for the beginnings of a solution. In earlier years, the 12 questions were worth one point each, with absolutely no partial credit given.

This year's competition was sponsored by the Mathematics and Computer Science Department and was proctored by Dr. Natacha Fontes-Merz, associate professor of mathematics. 

Throughout the academic year mathematics and computer sciences majors participate in a variety of activities, including an international mathematical contest in modeling, local and regional programming contests, the Mathematical Association of America section meeting, and volunteering at Westminster's Campus Learning Center. There is also an opportunity for students to meet with faculty to prepare for the Putnam exam, and Acturial and Graduate Record Exams (GRE).

Contact Fontes-Merz at 724-946-7290 or email for additional information. 

(l-r) Emily Walther, John Griebel and Gregory Clark