Formula for Success: Local STEM Students Earn International Recognition

College Relations, Communications, and Marketing
Date: 5/10/2016

Four Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) STEM students stood in front of faculty, advisors and fellow members of the Math Club to receive certificates citing them for their outstanding performance in the 32nd Annual International Mathematics Contest in Modeling (MCM). Two additional students were awarded certificates, but unable to attend the ceremony.

This is RCGC’s first 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.

The Math Club is one of RCGC’s newest student clubs. In their short time together, student members have participated in the Garden State Math Competition at William Paterson University, Live Free or Pie Hard at RCGC and visited the Museum of Math in NYC. The Hoxworth siblings thought this 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 Bridget Costello of Deptford, Ken Lee of Westville and Bobby Tenuto of Williamstown. The second team included Matthew Delengowski of Williamstown, Randy Hutchinson of Sewell and Zachary Jones of Mantua. All participating teams were given the opportunity to select from three problems to solve. These problems were not revealed until the competition began. Both RCGC teams chose to work on Problem B – developing a solution for debris in outer space.

“We choose Problem B because it sounded like it would require the most creativity to solve,” explained Delengowski.

“It also had a lot more physics involved,” added Costello, “and a lot of us have a heavy physics background.”

Both teams worked on their solutions for four days on RCGC’s campus before submitting their final solution. The team comprised of Costello, Lee and Tenuto earned “Honorable Mention,” with only 12 U.S. teams placing above them. Their 27-page solution beat out teams from Virginia Tech, the United States Military Academy and the University of Pennsylvania. The team comprised of Delengowski, Hutchinson and Jones 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 7,421 teams from institutions around the globe participated in the competition this year – 389 of them from the United States. Problem B alone had 1,453 teams from around the world working to solve it.

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.

“Don’t procrastinate,” said Tenuto with a laugh. “You don’t have as much time as you think. And remember to work together.”

“The most valuable lesson this competition taught me was the importance of teamwork,” agreed Lee. “To complete a project this big in such a short amount of time, you really have to pool your resources.”

 

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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