5 Montgomery Co. high school students advance to finals in international math modeling competition

A group of high school students in Rockville, Maryland, have taken their love for math to the next level.

Richard Montgomery High School students Alexander Karbowski, Jerry Shen, Danesh Sivakumar, Tony Wu, and Junzhi Xie entered an international competition focused on using math to solve real-world problems.

The challenge was to use math to find a solution to making internet accessible to all.

And if that seemed a little too easy: The team only had 14 hours to do it virtually.

“For me, [it] opened my mind to how many different ways math can be used beyond just looking at formulas,” said Richard Montgomery senior Shen.

Shen, along with four of his friends from the school, entered the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge. It’s organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

“We decided to work together just to have some fun, because we all liked math,” Shen said.

The team’s design earned them a spot in the finals as one of three Technical Computing Finalists for their attention to detail and their math skills.

The other two technical finalists are from high schools in Hillsborough, California, and Osprey, Florida.

“Our team is truly passionate about learning and applying what they have learned in math class,” said team coach Warren Wilkerson. “They managed to teach underclassmen the importance of including all aspects of a mathematical model into a written paper, while also being as simple as possible.”

The winning teams will be awarded a share of $125,000 in scholarships, with the champions receiving $22,500.

“The big takeaway is that it’s just learning all of this math that we can apply in the future,” Shen said.

Next for his team is presenting their plan along with a handful of other finalists to a panel on April 26.

“I don’t want to jinx myself, but I really hope we do win,” Shen said.

The competition drew more than 2,400 student competitors in grades 11 and 12, and upper-level students in the United Kingdom.

In their final presentation, they will present their work virtually to a panel of professional mathematicians.

“I’m just really proud of all of our team members. And I really think that it was a great learning opportunity for all of us,” Shen said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up