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UWRF Mathematical Modeling Team Wins High Designation at International Competition

By Annaka Isenberger
UWRF University Communications

MAY 2, 2008--In February, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Mathematical Modeling Team competed against 1,162 teams at the 2008 Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP)-sponsored Mathematical Modeling Contest and won the designation "Meritorious," the second highest placement offered.

The team of three, consisting of Chuck Bardel of Woodbury Minn., John O'Brien-Schroeder of Hudson, Wis., and David Peschman of Maple Grove, Minn., achieved the highest ranking the UWRF team has ever earned.

In the contest, teams chose between two problems that were issued on the Internet on Feb. 14, which led to their choice problem, Sudoku puzzles. Over the course of the weekend, the team used the Internet and library research to help them develop a model to solve the problem then wrote a computer program in MATLAB®, a numerical computing environment and programming language , that generates Sudoku puzzles along with a rating of how difficult it would be for a human to solve each puzzle.  

Rounding out the competition, the team wrote a paper explaining their model, computer program, and their results.  

Team member Chuck Bardel said the exercise was a great experience. "Overall, I believe that this competition offers a good exercises in real-world problem-solving where team members bounce ideas off each other, independently finding research material, applying the problem-solving skills learned in classes, and most important, being able to explain how the problem was solved," said Bardel. "I find that as a tutor being able to explain how to approach problems reinforced my own previous learning but also give the people I'm helping the tools they need to do better in their classes."

Kathy Tomlinson, team advisor and a UWRF professor of mathematics from  River Falls, prepped the team in an independent study during the fall semester 2007, practicing using relevant technologies, solving modeling problems, leaning the mechanics of the contest, and discussing the important issues in mathematical modeling.

"I like the contest because it blends problem solving skills and technology skills mathematics students learn in classes with cooperative work and research and writing skills that are so important in the workplace and in the world," Tomlinson said.

COMAP, is an award-winning nonprofit organization dedicated to improving mathematics education for students of all ages. Since 1980, COMAP has worked with teachers, students and business people to create learning environments where mathematics is used to investigate and model real issues in our world.


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:09:02 Central Daylight Time


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