Math Modeling Results Prove Students' Skills

Feedback from mathematicians, math educators and professionals in math-related fields added up to a strong showing by Asbury University students that participated in the math modeling competition this spring.

The results have just come in from the event in February, where seven teams of Asbury students tackled real-world problems over the course of a weekend. They wrote papers describing their solutions and sent them off for evaluation.

In the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM), Asbury’s teams competed with 2,775 teams from 16 countries. Laura Hochstetler, Katie Kaminski and Nathaniel Winckler scored in the top 13 percent, earning a “Meritorious” designation. Two other teams — Matias von Bell, Scott Brabon and Laura Smith; and Keri Eustis, George Lytle and Kaity Bradley — received an “Honorable Mention.” The Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling received entries from 735 teams in four countries, and Asbury’s team of Stephanie Lawrence, Rebecca Gaul and Zach Whelchel was rated “Meritorious.”

“By cramming the project into three days, we really got to fully immerse ourselves in the world of our modeling problem,” Whelchel said. “We learned how build concrete solutions to a very subjective problem.”

Sophomore Laura Hochstetler was the only member of her team who had participated in a math modeling competition before — experience that proved important for finding a good pace in the push to develop a solution, work out the math and write the paper, she said.

“The tight deadline created a space for intensive focus and concentration,” Hochstetler said. “Before the modeling competition, I had never focused exclusively on one thing for that length of time, and I enjoyed discovering just how rewarding that can be. Another benefit I found in the compressed time frame of the competition is that it stresses an altogether different set of valuable proficiencies than those our professors can emphasize in a classroom setting. Mathematical competence is needed for the competition, but the time deadline also leads to a focus on efficient collaboration among team members, quick prioritization and time management, and integrity while under pressure.”

Each team presented their math modeling papers at the annual meeting of the Kentucky chapter of the Mathematical Association of America in March. The presentations not only provided good opportunities for the students to develop communication skills, but they also garnered positive feedback from mathematicians at other schools, said Dr. David Coulliette, Asbury’s mathematics department chairman.

“The results of this contest, along with other assessment measures, indicate that Asbury has an extremely strong math program,” Coulliette said. “We have a wonderful group of students who work hard and play hard together.”

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