"Yes, I did some modeling in college..."
By Heidi Heater, a sophomore from Jackson, Ky.
WILMORE, KY— Spoiling the hopes of corrupt politicians. Minimizing the donor-to-patient kidney transplant time. Assisting a young family in safely boarding a jumbo jet. Sound like a job for Superman? Forget the Man-of-Steel, and call (or better yet, email or IM) your favorite math geek.
For the 20th year, the Asbury College math department competed in a worldwide, math-modeling competition sponsored by Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP). COMAP is an award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to improve mathematics education for students of all ages. COMAP has worked with teachers, students and business people to create learning environments in which mathematics is used to investigate and model real-world issues.
On Feb. 8-12, four Asbury College teams of three students each committed their weekend to the Hamann-Ray Science Center to solve ‘real-world’ problems. These problems include forming fair voting districts for U.S. House of Representatives elections, developing an efficient airline boarding/deboarding plan and improving the donor/patient matching system for kidney transplants to minimize patient wait time and maximize the chances of successful transplantation.
The teams have to construct and test an appropriate math model for their assigned problem and write a paper describing their work. Each team’s work must be completed by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12.
Kelly Christensen, a sophomore from Canfield, Ohio, said, “It’s very exciting. These problems really are problems that we’re facing. To come up with a solution for it is
amazing!” Christensen also said that participation in this competition would assist her in internships and jobs later.
Students like David Williams, a senior from Painesville, Ohio, believe that math modeling is more fun than doing homework. “I’m gaining an opportunity to utilize the math methods I’ve learned here at Asbury to solve complicated problems. Plus, it’s fun!”
According to Dr. David Coulliette, professor and chair of the math and computer science department at Asbury College, the College usually places at least one team in the top 15 percent of the competition. This year’s results will be announced March 31, 2007.