Click here to download the guide.
What is the MCM?
The Mathematical Contest in Modeling is a competition in which undergraduate
students in teams of three, at colleges and universities all over the world,
spend a weekend in February working on one of two real-life problems and writing
a formal paper describing their work. The problems are taken from all fields of
science, government, and industry. Recent problems have included estimating the
global effects of a large meteor impacting Antarctica, studying hunting
strategies for velociraptor dinosaurs based on fossil data, and developing
methods for detecting nuclear submarines in the ocean using only the existing
noise field. Each team selects one of two problems (discrete or continuous) and
then spends the weekend developing a mathematical approach to the problem and
writing their paper. During the contest, the students may use books, libraries,
computers, the web: anything except a living person. After the contest, a panel
of math professors rank the solution papers into five groups: Successful
Participant (55%), Honorable Mention (30%), Meritorious (15%), and Outstanding
(about 12 papers).
The MCM is less about what you know or what classes you've taken, than about
what you can teach yourself during the contest. It's more about creativity,
writing, and working as a team. A team that creates a simple model, understands
it well, and explains it clearly will generally beat a team with a more
complicated, perhaps better model, that can't put their work into simple words.
If you are a current Carroll student and are interested in joining us, please contact me (Dr. Kelly Cline),
Dr. Mark Parker, or Dr. Holly Zullo. Sometimes people think that we must be looking for only huge math genius people, but what we're really looking for are people who have energy, enthusiasm, teamwork skills, some writing ability, and who enjoy math. If this contest sounds like fun, then you're exactly the sort of person we're looking for!
For more information and a list of the teams over the past few years, take a look at Dr. Parker's MCM Page.. He's also compiled a nice list of MCM Resources.
Dr. Parker's MCM Page describing our participation here at Carroll.
MCM Information On the Web!
The official COMAP MCM website.
The Quest of the MCM: Conquering the Math Contest in Modeling. This is a truly excellent guide to the MCM. It was written by Brian Camley, Pascal Getreuer, and Bradley Klingenberg: They did the MCM at the University of Colorado at Boulder 3 times, in 2004, 2005, and 2006. (I never met them: They started the year after I left.) Now for the amazing part: These guys got outstanding ALL THREE YEARS. That is an amazing accomplishment that I doubt any other team will be equaling any time soon. Think about that for a minute, then go read their guide.
from a university in Ireland
INFORMS -- One of the
SIAM -- Another
MAA -- yet another!
From Mark Parker, a list of MCM Resources.
Nice page from University of Puget
Sound, they've been continuously involved since '92.
Page from Eastern Oregon
University, where I competed three times.
Page from Stetson
Page from Grinnell.
Page from Tempere
A site on Mathematical
Old papers: This is from a calpoly team in '97. And here's another from
the same guy in '98.
A page from U Mass describing
their involvement in the the contest.
Modeling contest links and the papers from Heritage College's participation in the MCM.
Lots of papers from the University of Washington
Central Washington University
CreditsAlthough I have tested the ideas contained in this page, they're
not my original ideas. First of all, I want to thank Holly Zullo and Mark Parker, two of the best teachers I've ever known. They introduced me to this contest when I was a student, and I am now honored to worth with them as colleagures: What I've presented here is mostly
stolen from the Zullo-Parker method. I'd also like to thank all the math faculty
at EOU as well as Dr. Preyer, and all the EOU faculty who helped train our teams.
Other ideas here have been appropriated from outstanding papers and judges
commentary in the UMAP Journal -- if you want to really prepare, go to the
The students that I have coached here at Carroll College have taught me a lot about how to succeed in this contest:
Anne Dougherty and Bengt Fornberg at the University of Colorado were kind enough
to let me help coach the teams in Boulder while I was in grad school. I
learned a lot from them, and a lot from the undergraduate teams that I
- 2005 A John Fowler, Kyle Nixon, Sheena Strohmayer; Flood Planning: Meritorious
- 2005 B Shane Garrick, Anthony Rasca, Ying Zhu; Tollbooths: Honorable Mention
- 2005 B Pam Bennett, Seth DeLong, Ben Dunham; Tollbooths: Successful Participant
- 2005 B Jeffrey Larson, John Riggs, Pablo VanWoerkom; Tollbooths: Successful Participant
- 2005 C Jeremy Deter, George Metzger, Jeff Michelson; Nonrenewable Resources: Honorable Mention
- 2005 C Alaina Garcia, Greg Ray, Joshua Sykes; Nonrenewable Resources: Successful Participant
- 2004 A Jeff Larson, Adam Nielsen, & Greg Ray; Fingerprints: Successful Participant.
- 2004 B John Fowler, Shane Garrick, & Joseph Rasca; Quickpass: Honorable Mention.
- 2004 B Seth DeLong, George Metzger, & Shannon O'Brien; Quickpass: Meritorious Winner,
- 2004 B Joseph Havens, Pavlo VanWoerkom, & Ying Zhu; Quickpass: Honorable Mention.
- 2004 C Kelly Beffert, Loren Brown, & Sarah Hartenstein; To Be Secure or Not to Be?: Honorable Mention.
- 2004 C John Louie, Anthony Rasca, & Joshua Sykes; To Be Secure or Not to Be?: Meritorious Winner.
- 2004 C Jessica Davis, Lucas Meuchel, & Jeffrey Michelson; To Be Secure or Not to Be?: Honorable Mention.
Of course I learned the most when I competed myself, so I would like to thank my fellow teammates
who put up with this cranky, greedy, domineering, obsessive teammate! Our teams were:
- 2003 B Darin Gillis, David Lindstone, & Aaron Windfield; The Gamma Knife Problem: Outstanding.
- 2003 B Moorea Brega, Alejandro Cantarero, & Corry Lee; The Gamma Knife Problem: Meritorious.
- 2003 C Joseph Carrera, Ian Derrington, & Kimiko Kano; Aviation Baggage Screening Strategies: Honorable Mention.
- 2002 B Kevin Leder, Saverio Spagnolie, & Stefan Wild; Airline Overbooking: Outstanding.
- 2002 A James Barron, Jill Kamienski, & Olivia Koski; Wind
and Waterspray: Meritorious.
- 2002 A Moorea Brega & Alejandro Cantarero; Wind and Waterspray: Meritorious.
- 2002 A Darin Gillis, Geoff Goehle, & Aaron Windfield; Wind and Waterspray: Meritorious.
- 2001 A Grant Macklem, Saverio
Spagnolie, & Tye Rattenbury; The Bicycle Wheel Problem: Honorable Mention.
- 2001 B Jim Barron, Jill Kamienski, and Olivia Koski; The Hurricane
Evacuation Problem: Meritorious.
- 2000 C Jim Barron, John Herman, and Cristy Shannon; The Elephant Management
Problem: Honorable Mention.
- 2000 A Martin Link, Rich Younger, & Bill Woessner; The Air Traffic Control Problem: Outstanding.
- 1998 A Kelly Cline, Kacee Giger, Timothy O'Connor; The MRI Problem: Outstanding
- 1997 A Robert Bynum, Kelly Cline, and Jennifer Conklin; The Velociraptor Problem: Honorable Mention
- 1996 A Kelly Cline, Noel Peden, & Mark Pomeroy; The Submarine Tracking Problem: Successful Participant
If you find this page useful/interesting please e-mail me! I'm very interested
in any thoughts.