HSU Students Use Math to Solve Real-World Problems in International Competition

For the 19th consecutive year, HSU Environmental Resources Engineering students participated in the annual 2019 Mathematical Modeling Contest (MCM).

HSU’s two teams—Jacob Turner, Josh Steiner, Tyler Caseltine; and Terran Hilden, Tran Huyen (Sky) N. Pham, and Cavanaugh Carter—were among 26,000 teams from universities around the world from 18 different countries that participated in the contest, sponsored by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP).

Putting their math and communication skills to the test, students spent four days in January tackling one of six real-world problems and summarizing their solution in a written report. The results were announced last week.

Turner, Steiner, and Caseltine’s problem required them to build an emergency evacuation model for the Louvre Museum. They explored ways to evacuate visitors with minimal interference to emergency personnel entering the building. They competed against 5,728 teams and were awarded a ranking of Meritorious Winners. Only 15 teams received a higher score.

Hilden, Pham, and Carter made a strong showing, too. Selecting a problem focused on the current opioid epidemic in the U.S., they needed to construct a model based on data provided by the Drug Enforcement Agency to determine the severity of the epidemic without intervention. A total of 5,125 teams selected to work on this question, and Terran, Sky, and Cavanaugh were awarded the score of Successful Participant.

“This is an extremely competitive event,” says Elizabeth A. Eschenbach, department chair and professor of Environmental Resources Engineering. “Their achievement continues the tradition of excellence of previous teams and brings recognition to the Environmental Resources Engineering Department, the College of Natural Resources and to Humboldt State University.”