• April 2, 2021

    MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge - Honorable Mention

    Seniors earn Honorable Mention in international math challenge

    M3 Challenge A team of Upper St. Clair High School students recently earned Honorable Mention overall and an Honorable Mention in the category of technical computing in the MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge. Seniors Alex Carlson, Christian Chiu, Harrison Chui, Jack Myers and Sophia Shi will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be split equally.

    “Of the 535 papers submitted in this year’s MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge, your team’s solution has been selected to receive one of 35 honorable mention awards. You should be very proud of this distinction, especially given the rigorous and intense scrutiny that each paper endured,” Adrianne Ali, a representative from M3 Challenge, said. “Only about 9% of the submitted papers were selected for prize recognition.”

    In vying for technical computing recognition, the code in the team’s paper was read and analyzed by professional judges. 

    “Although your submission was not selected for one of the three scholarship prizes, it was one of only a few finalist contenders that judges found it worthy of an honorable mention distinction in the category of technical computing,” Ms. Ali said. “We respect and admire the work that teams did to reach this echelon of recognition, especially this year in light of the pandemic fatigue we are all feeling.

    Coached by math teacher Kevin Coffman, the Upper St. Clair team was one of just 23 teams – representing 17 high schools – from throughout Pennsylvania. The only other team from Allegheny County was North Allegheny Senior High School.

    During the intensive M3 Challenge weekend (Feb. 26–March 1), teams of high school juniors and seniors used mathematical skills, research, and brainstorming to evaluate data and propose answers to the digital divide dilemma. Teams had to submit their solutions within the strict 14 consecutive hour time limit, akin to the way things often happen in the real world.

    This year’s M3 Challenge
    In the past year the world has had to face some stark realities. One of those is that there is a gap between those who can use and benefit from adequate access to the internet and those who cannot.

    Ensuring that everyone – particularly those in rural and low-income areas – has sufficient access to high-speed internet is a technical, logistical and economic challenge. This year’s problem asked teams to build a model to predict the cost per unit of bandwidth per Mbps over the next 10 years for consumers; create a flexible mathematical model to predict a given household’s need for the internet over the course of a year; and develop a model that produces an optimal plan for distributing/placing cellular nodes in a region.

    While this “digital divide” has been around for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it sharply into focus, as many people have seen their work, school, healthcare, grocery shopping, and socializing migrate to a virtual experience—happening within the home, using digital devices. Ensuring that everyone (particularly those in rural and low-income areas) has sufficient access to high-speed internet is a technical, logistical, and economic challenge. It is not clear which among the many ways to access the internet (e.g., cable, fiber-optic lines, satellites, mobile broadband) can best solve the connectivity issues experienced by people in different types of households and regions. What will connectivity cost over the next decade? How should minimum required bandwidth be predicted? What is the optimal way to distribute cellular nodes in a region to maximize access?

    These issues and questions were all part of this year’s MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge problem that 535 teams comprised of 2,400 students examined while competing for $125,000+ in scholarships. A program of Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), M3 Challenge is designed to motivate students to study and pursue careers in applied math, computational science, and technical computing.