A team of Upper St. Clair High School students recently earned honorable mention overall and an honorable mention in the category of technical computing in the MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge.

Seniors Alex Carlson, Christian Chiu, Harrison Chui, Jack Myers and Sophia Shi will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be split equally.

“Of the 535 papers submitted in this year’s MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge, your team’s solution has been selected to receive one of 35 honorable mention awards. You should be very proud of this distinction, especially given the rigorous and intense scrutiny that each paper endured,” said Adrianne Ali, a representative from M3 Challenge. “Only about 9 percent of the submitted papers were selected for prize recognition.”

In vying for technical computing recognition, the code in the team’s paper was read and analyzed by professional judges.

“Although your submission was not selected for one of the three scholarship prizes, it was one of only a few finalist contenders that judges found it worthy of an honorable mention distinction in the category of technical computing,” Ali said. “We respect and admire the work that teams did to reach this echelon of recognition, especially this year in light of the pandemic fatigue we are all feeling.”

Coached by math teacher Kevin Coffman, the Upper St. Clair team was one of just 23 teams, representing 17 high schools, from throughout Pennsylvania. The only other team from Allegheny County was North Allegheny High School.

During the intensive M3 Challenge weekend, Feb. 26–March 1, teams of high school juniors and seniors used mathematical skills, research and brainstorming to evaluate data and propose answers to the digital divide dilemma. Teams had to submit their solutions within a strict 14-consecutive-hour time limit.

Ensuring that everyone, particularly those in rural and low-income areas, has sufficient access to high-speed internet is a technical, logistical and economic challenge. This year’s problem asked teams to build a model to predict the cost per unit of bandwidth per megabytes per second over the next 10 years for consumers; create a flexible mathematical model to predict a given household’s need for the internet over the course of a year; and develop a model that produces an optimal plan for distributing or placing cellular nodes in a region.