HSU students recently took part in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling, a large undertaking with over 900 institutions around the world participating. Teams are challenged to solve a complex, open-ended real-world math problem.
About half of the teams participating worldwide fail to even solve the problem. One of the teams from HSU received a hypothetical disaster situation, and was briefed on how to best provide surveillance and medical delivery to Puerto Rico following the recent hurricane. They figured they could supply three cities with two years of medical supplies.
Johnny Rasnic, a mathematics major at HSU, enjoys being active within the math department.
“Here the department is small but they try to keep things active for the math majors,” Rasnic said.
Rasnic applied his knowledge fully to this competition. His favorite aspect of this competition is the collaboration.
“People see things that you don’t. Two brains is better than one,” Rasnic said.
To Rasnic, this competition is about making the impossible possible. It’s about taking a mathematical truth and applying it to certain situations to find more true statements.
There was one team from HSU who was tasked with finding out how to evacuate the Louvre in Paris as quickly as possible. They made their evacuation plan as specific as possible, and made different potential plans of evacuation for different potential solutions.
Astrophysics and applied mathematics major at HSU, Gynell Higby gave advice to people looking to compete in the future.
“Be prepared,” Higby said.
One group from HSU focused on the opioid crisis. They were given data on opioid incidents in five states: West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa.
Briana Ramirez, applied mathematics major at HSU, was on the team tackling this problem.
“Basically, the purpose of the problem was to see the driving drugs of the opioid crisis and the driving demographic that uses the most opioids,” Ramirez said.
The demographics for this crisis were shown on an excel sheet which the group looked over. They were given 96 hours to tackle the problem. They laid out code on a computer, but just as they were close to solving the problem, the power went out and all of their code got wiped clean.
So, they started over with a sleepless night. After hours of grinding work, they found that Ohio has the biggest opioid crisis, but Kentucky has the largest demographics that use the most opioids.
The teams used different aspects of their intelligence. This was Ramirez’s second time participating in the competition.
“We’re really using all of our education in one setting,” Ramirez said. “It’s an academia competition. But we’re not getting graded on it and we kind of have the full range of our creativity and all our knowledge to go into something productive.”
Ramirez went on to share the positive aspect of collaboration in this math modeling. she said that since the team os divided into groups of three, people can bring a lot of different skills to the table.
“Bringing all of our education together was something really beneficial,” Ramirez said. “It kind of reinforces your learning through however many years of college you have.”