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Mathematics Competitions

Work with teams to solve problems, competing against other schools around the world. And have fun doing it!

You don't have to be a math major to participate. In fact, students majoring in other fields bring their own set of skills that help the team think critically and creatively. The benefit of competition is gaining valuable and marketable experience working collaboratively to solve real, challenging problems in creative ways.

International Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) / Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM)

These are two of the primary contests in which students participate. During the four-day contests, teams of three undergraduate students research an open-ended, real-world problem and submit a report describing their solution to that problem.

Typically, Simpson fields around 20 teams for the MCM and ICM each year, more teams than any other college or university in the United States. The final rankings for teams are Outstanding (top 2-3%), Meritorious (next 10-15%), Honorable Mention (next 30-35%), and Successful Participant. Our teams regularly earn rankings in all of these categories and our students’ level of success in the contests seems to increase every year.

The MCM and ICM are great opportunities for you to address a real-world challenge, practice working in a team with a deadline and write persuasively about mathematics. All of these skills will serve you well in the work place after you graduate.

William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition

Administered by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the Putnam Exam is a six-hour competition where students work individually on 12 difficult problems based on college-level mathematics. The value of this demanding exam is to practice solving these types of problems.

Iowa Collegiate Mathematics Competition (ICMC)

This competition is sponsored by the Iowa Section of the MAA. Teams of three students work for three hours to complete ten questions that are similar to those on the Putnam Exam.

Iowa Mathematical Modeling Contest (IMMC)

This regional modeling competition is held at the University of Iowa. Teams of three students investigate an open-ended, real-world problem and prepare a short presentation explaining their results. The contest is similar to the MCM and ICM contests, but with a shorter timeline.