Published: May 25, 2021 By

In late April, the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP) released the results of the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) and Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM). Each year, COMAP hosts modeling competitions that undergraduates from universities across the globe compete in. The COMAP web page explains that the MCM “challenges teams of students to clarify, analyze, and propose solutions to open-ended problems,” while the ICM “is designed to develop and advance interdisciplinary problem-solving skills as well as competence in written communication.”  At CU, the teams are co-sponsored by the Applied Math Department (APPM) and the Engineering Honors Program (EHP).  The students are majoring in applied math or in one of the engineering or science disciplines.

After the competition, COMAP recognizes the top papers with an Outstanding designation as well as with named awards from several professional societies. In relation to the possible awards given, and of most relevance to this year’s results for CU, the MAA Award is given by the Mathematical Association of America, while the SIAM Award is given by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Teams from CU have historically been extremely successful since they began participating almost 25 years ago, and this year was no exception. Department Chair Keith Julien explained CU’s success, saying that “since 2008, APPM/CU-EHP has won 14 Outstandings and 17 named Prizes/scholarships.  This still remains the most named prizes—Shanghai Jiao Tong is second with 8—but Shanghai Jiao Tong has passed us now with 16 Outstandings.  Tsinghua University is in third place with 8 Outstandings during this time period (2008-2021).”MCM Outstanding Team Photo

This year, there were 26,112 teams participating; 36 teams were deemed Outstanding. One team from CU (with their team photo on the right), composed of students Emma Goodwill (top left), Lauren Marsh (top right), and Ishika Patel (bottom middle), was given one of only four COMAP Scholarships. They also received the MAA Award and SIAM Award. This team tackled Problem C, which “investigated the discovery and sightings of Vespa mandarinia (also known as the Asian giant hornet) in the State of Washington.”

A separate CU team, composed of Branson Camp, Aloha Churchill, and Steven Oakes, received the Finalist designation and the MAA Award for their work with Problem B. Problem B “used the scenario of the 2019-2020 fire season in Australia, which saw devastating wildfires in every state, to consider the use of drones in firefighting.”

The success of CU’s MCM/ICM teams are sustained by APPM’s Associate Department Chair Anne Dougherty. Dr. Dougherty plays a critical role in organizing, putting together, and preparing the teams for the contests each year, saying: 

“Working with Professors Bengt Fornberg and Manuel Lladser, we’ve recruited students, had training sessions, registered teams, and pushed things along a bit. In our training sessions, we talk with the students  about the contest to tell them what to expect, how to prepare, and how to succeed. If they’re not prepared and organized, they won’t do as well.”

Scot Douglass of the Engineering Honors Program and Dr. Dougherty recruit students from various majors to create teams that have many strengths. Dr. Dougherty explained that “The best teams have students with complementary skills and backgrounds … CU’s students are top students in the world, and you can see that in the success of our teams.” Organizing teams each year has clearly been successful, and Dr. Dougherty explained that the consistent participation of teams has fostered “a tradition of success that is passed down from one team to the next.”

Congratulations to all of the teams from CU who have once again very well represented the university and their departments on the global stage!

The results of the modeling competitions can be found on the COMAP website. The full results of the 6 CU teams that participated, along with the problem descriptions:

Team Members: Emma Goodwill, Lauren Marsh, Ishika Patel (all three women)

Problem C

Designation: Outstanding, MAA Award, SIAM Award, & COMAP Scholarship Award


Team Members: Branson Camp, Aloha Churchill, Steven Oakes

Problem B

Designation: Finalist, MAA Award


Team Members: Claudia Chen, Junwoo Lee,  Joshua Sun

Problem E

Designation: Meritorious


Team Members: Grant Norman, Brandon Finley, Allison Liu 

Problem: C

Designation: Honorable Mention


Team Members: Sanjay Kumar Keshava, Peter Lande, Luke Morrissey

Problem A

Designation: Successful Participant


Team Members: Caden Mcvey, Henry Terhaar, Aditya Vepa 

Problem F

Designation: Successful Participant