Formula for Success: Local STEM Students Earn International Recognition

College Relations, Communications, and Marketing
PR 066
Deptford Twp.
Date: 5/16/2017
rcgc-local-stem-students.jpg

Photo (from left to right): MCM Competitors and their advisors. Adjunct Professor and Math Club Advisor Ryan Hoxworth, MCM Competitors Scott Wood, Ryan Palaganas, Michael Koppel, Andrew Tomlinson, Dillion Murray and Evan Scott along with Professor and Math Club Advisor Jennifer Hoxworth.

           

            Deptford Twp. – Six Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) STEM students stood in front of administration, faculty, staff and fellow members of the Math Club to receive certificates citing them for their outstanding performance in the 33rd Annual International Mathematics Contest in Modeling (MCM).

            This is RCGC’s second time entering students into MCM, a contest which gives teams comprised of three students four days to solve a complex, real-world issue with mathematics. MCM is an online competition, so each team is able to compete from their own school. When instructor and Math Club advisor Jennifer Hoxworth and her co-advisor and brother, adjunct instructor Ryan Hoxworth, starting looking into the challenge, they knew it would be too good for their Math Club students to pass up.

            “We wanted to give our students an opportunity to use their skills outside the classroom and to represent their college internationally in a math competition,” explained Jennifer Hoxworth.

            During the past year, in addition to the movie nights, fundraisers and Club Days most RCGC clubs engage in, members of the Math Club have participated in the Garden State Math Competition at The College of New Jersey, The Garden State Student Poster Session and visited the Museum of Math in NYC. The Hoxworth siblings thought that MCM would be the perfect addition to the club’s growing roster of accomplishments and were excited to find six students who couldn’t agree more.

            “Leading up to the competition, Jen and I worked on providing the students with problems similar to what could be offered as part of MCM and helping them mentally prepare for the rigor of a four-day competition,” said Ryan Hoxworth. “But once the competition started, each team worked entirely on their own to develop their solution.”

            RCGC’s Math Club entered two teams into MCM. The first team was made up of Michael Koppel, Evan Scott and Scott Wood. The second team included Dillon Murray, Ryan Palaganas and Andrew Tomlinson. All participating teams were given the opportunity to select from three problems to solve. These problems were not revealed until the competition began. Koppel, Scott and Wood decided to work on Problem C – developing a solution to integrate self-driving cars into high-traffic areas to increase the capacity of highways without increasing the number of lanes or roads. Murray, Palaganas and Tomlinson chose to work on Problem B – developing a solution to highway congestion caused by vehicles existing tollbooths.

            “I was excited to participate in MCM, because I was told the questions are really challenging and thought-provoking, which turned out to be true” said Koppel. “We ultimately choose to work on Problem C because it dealt with self-driving cars, a relatively new technology.”

            “This competition taught us so much,” remarked Wood. “We saw first-hand just how important research and creativity are when faced with a challenging problem.”

            Both teams worked on their solutions for four days on RCGC’s campus before submitting their final solution. The team comprised of Koppel, Scott and Wood earned “Honorable Mention,” with only 17 U.S. teams placing above them. Their 22-page solution beat out teams from Virginia Tech, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware. The team comprised of Murray, Palaganas and Tomlinson earned “Successful Participants.”

            “It is a tremendous honor for our students to perform so successfully in the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling,” said STEM Dean, Dr. Brenden Rickards. “While I am not surprised at our students’ success, I am extremely proud of the dedication and the work that it took to perform so well against this level of competition. Their success further illustrates the outstanding students and dedicated faculty and staff, including their project advisors Jennifer Hoxworth and Ryan Hoxworth, which we have at Rowan College at Gloucester County.”

            Rickard’s comments about the level of competition involved in MCM are not to be taken lightly. A total of 8,843 teams from institutions around the globe participated in the competition this year – 311 of them from the United States.

            “MCM drew me in because it’s a world-wide competition,” said Tomlinson. “I was interested to know how I would fare against some of the best students across the globe.”

            “The competition was an experience in controlled insanity,” Murray added.” There was a lot of Google-searching and we filled up three white boards with math and drawings. Obviously, we worked really hard on the math element, but there was a lot of research, as well.”

            The students were visibly enthused by the results of their hard work, and eager to offer advice to the next team of students to enter MCM.

            “It’s really important to pool your strengths,” remarked Palaganas. “Never disregard an idea – you get the best results when you’re open to what everyone has to say.”

            “Don’t be afraid to push your boundaries,” added Scott. “Bring as much research and as many points-of-view to this as you can – without a united, team effort a competition like this just isn’t possible.”

Rowan College at Gloucester County’s 250-acre campus is located on Tanyard Road in Deptford, just off Exit 56 of Route 55. 

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