Simpson Teams Excel Again at Math Modeling Competition

It’s becoming an annual tradition: Simpson College enjoyed another highly successful run during the prestigious Mathematical and Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (MCM/ICM).

For the ninth straight year, Simpson fielded more three-student teams – 23 – than any other U.S. institution.

And Simpson had eight teams that earned an Honorable Mention or Meritorious ranking, the only college or university in Iowa to receive those designations.

This is a great example of why students can find their success at Simpson College.

““Potential employers and graduate schools love students that have this experience,” said Rick Spellerberg, a professor of mathematics.  “There is no better way for students to provide evidence they can apply what they have learned in the classroom.“

Simpson students Rob Heise, Taylor Johnson and Lauren Doocey were on the team that earned the Meritorious ranking.

In the math modeling competition, teams of three undergraduate students spend four days researching an open-ended, real-world problem and then submit a report describing how they would solve the problem.

The highly competitive event attracts math teams from around the world.

There are three sets of problems – A, B and C, with C being the interdisciplinary problem and tending to be the most challenging. Only 22 teams from the U.S. chose the C problem; seven of those teams were from Simpson, including the team that finished with a Meritorious award.

Six of the seven teams from Simpson that received Honorable Mention also worked on the C interdisciplinary problem.

“Virtually all the rest of the teams (that chose the C problem) were from China,” said Rick Spellerberg, a professor of mathematics at Simpson. “Our students are not afraid to tackle the more challenging interdisciplinary problem of the three and they excel at producing solutions.”

The teams the Simpson students form are interdisciplinary in nature. “They realize it’s important to bring a wide variety of skill sets to the table,” he said. “This mindset naturally allows them to excel at that type of problem.”

Two of the three students on Simpson’s Meritorious team are currently taking the Differential Equations class taught by Heidi Berger, assistant professor of mathematics. In their solution, they developed a model using a differential equation.

That team will be presenting a poster of their work between 2-2:35 p.m. Saturday on campus during the MUMS event.

Receiving a Meritorious designation means the team finished in the top 15 percent of the 957 teams that submitted solutions to that problem.

“They were able to take what they learned in the classroom and right away successfully apply it to a very open-ended real world problem,” Spellerberg said.

He added, “Often our students tell us that a majority of a job interview was spent talking about this competition and their experience.  We also have students that are highly sought in graduate programs where modeling is an emphasis.”

Other results:

Honorable Mention – Ted Heying, Jake Sutton, Taylor Norland.

Honorable Mention – Austin Kesterson, Laura Collins, Scott Henry.

Honorable Mention – Zach Huebener, Adam Smith, Stephen Henrich.

Honorable Mention – Addi O’Conner, Natalie Smith, Kelly Woodard.

Honorable Mention – Whitney Thompson, Andy Ardueser, Ethan Newman.

Honorable Mention – Mike Henry, Luke Kirchner, Jared Murphy.

Honorable Mention – Louis Joslyn, Erik Hall, Ruth Roberts.

Successful Participant – Rachel Rice, Michael Frank, Jamie Ethington.

Successful Participant – Aracely Guzman, Maria Gonzalez, Lauren Tirado.

Successful Participant – Megan McNulty, Lindsey Becker, Sarah Jermeland.

Successful Participant – Emma Jones, Casey Croson, Linsey Williams.

Successful Participant – Clay Daggett, Jeanie Mullen, Mike Comer.

Successful Participant – Bree Gaster, Nick Yaeger, Miles Kirts.

Successful Participant – Katie Westlund, Erin Bryan, Sarah Hayes.

Successful Participant – Dakota Spurrier, Michael Nemer, Robert Fees.

Successful Participant – Katie Van Houten, Jes Toyne, Susan Leslie.

Successful Participant – Sara Reed, Connor McDermott, Erin Brown.

Successful Participant – Jake Kercheval, Kevin Hughes, Taylor Stockdale.

Successful Participant – Holly Baiotto, JJ Hansen, Jon Ludwig.

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