A total of 57 teams of UIC students won awards at the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) and the Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM) 2020, and the number of Meritorious Winners and Honourable Mentions' winners reached a record high.

These students are from the Division of Science and Technology (DST) and the Division of Business and Management (DBM), of which five teams were selected for the Meritorious Winners, while 10 teams received the Honourable Mentions, and 42 teams won the Successful Participants award.

The 2020 MCM/ICM contest is hosted by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP). MCM is an international contest for high school students and college undergraduates. It challenges teams of students to clarify, analyse, and propose solutions to open-ended problems.

The contest attracts diverse students and faculty advisors from over 900 institutions around the world. ICM is an extension of the MCM. It is designed to develop and advance interdisciplinary problem-solving skills as well as competence in written communication.

The contest attracted over 20,000 teams from many higher institutions from around the world including the US, China, Australia, Canada, the UK, and India. Students from top universities including the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, Columbia University, Cornell University, Peking University and Tsinghua University participated in the contest.

Any participating team entering the MCM/ICM contest need to consist of three undergraduates. Within four days, students need to select one of the six designated problems to complete all the work from model building, problem-solving, and verification to writing an English thesis.

Students participating in the competition must not only have knowledge and ability in mathematical modelling, but also strong ability in writing English scientific paper, which requires higher comprehensive strength of the participating students. The topics of this contest involved many fields such as economy, management, environment, resources, ecology, medicine, safety and so on. The instructors communicated online with the students before the game and answered their questions about the contest rules, registration and instructions.

The following are some of the award-winning students' experience:

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Yin Jiaying, Year 2 Statistics Programme

In this contest, the topic we selected required the establishment of models and analysis of the economic impacts of fish migration caused by climate change, and it required the use of knowledge from multiple disciplines. Due to the impact of the epidemic, my teammates and I can only build models online. Every day during the competition, we would start our day by opening a web conferencing application then we would conduct the research separately, following a result sharing session to see our progress. Sometimes the discussion would not end until nearly midnight.

I think everyone cooperated very well for the first time, and each of us performed their own duties to the best of our abilities. I am grateful to our teachers in the Statistics Programme for their patience in explaining the rules and notes. It was the first time we participated in such a competition, and the three of us won the Meritorious Winners without having too much experience beforehand.

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Li Yuting, Year 4 Financial Mathematics

This is my first time participating in the MCM contest, and our team won the Meritorious Winners. Before the contest, we researched about mathematical modelling, and we learned the basic methods and processes. I think the most important part of the competition is how to allocate the duties and manage the time well in order to maintain high efficiency. In addition, communication within the group is also very important. It is necessary to express your opinions clearly and remain optimistic after encountering some difficulties.

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Wu Xiaoyu, Year 2 Statistics Programme

From the beginning of our freshman year, our teachers encouraged us to participate in mathematical modelling competitions, which allowed us to learn a lot of new knowledge related to the major and improve our ability to apply the knowledge to solve practical problems. This time, we not only won the Meritorious Winners but also developed a solid understanding of mathematical modelling knowledge and the used software, which will be of great help to our future study.

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Li Yin, Year 3 Data Science Programme

Last year, I participated in the China Undergraduate Mathematical Contest in Modelling (CUMCM) with my teammates. Due to the lack of experience, we were extremely nervous. We tried to solve every problem but eventually had no time for problems in the later part. This time, we were more decisive and we controlled the time pretty well. In the end, we even had extra time to write the paper with LaTeX (a document preparation system), and we won the Meritorious Winners.

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Dong Yue, Year 3 Applied Economics Programme

As an Applied Economics student, I plan to apply for a different major in financial engineering for my postgraduate studies. The experience of this competition will be very helpful. The biggest difficulty encountered in the game is the lack of mathematical expertise. I am grateful to the mutual support we provided to each other. In the last three days, everyone tried their best and we hardly rested. We did our best to complete this contest and won the Honourable Mentions.

 Translated by Covee Wang

Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He

(from MPRO)