### Winners Again in Mathematical Contest in Modeling

A three-member team of University of Washington students has again been declared Outstanding Winners in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Of this year's 664 participating teams, only ten, including one from the UW, were judged to be outstanding winners. In addition, one other UW team was declared Meritorious (top 13%). We have had five winning teams in the last four years.

It is natural to wonder if we are getting a name for ourselves in MCM circles. Yes, we are! However, that has no effect on the results: each team is assigned a number, and the judges do not know the names of the team members or their home institution until after the decision has been made. Each win is an independent event!

The winning team members are Ryan Bressler, Braxton Osting, and Christina Polwarth. Ryan and Cristina have graduated and are working on research projects with UW faculty. Braxton is now a graduate student at Columbia, and is coaching a team at Columbia that will enter the 2006 contest.

The contest began at 5pm on February 3, when officials posted two problems on the Web. The teams had until 5pm on February 7 (96 hours) to select one problem and devise a solution. Competitors could access sources on the Web or in the library, but could not consult with anyone outside their team. Here is part of the problem the winning team solved:

Lake Murray in central South Carolina is formed by a large earthen dam. Model the flooding downstream in the event there is a catastrophic earthquake that breaches the dam. In particular, could the flood be so massive downstream that water would reach up to the S.C. State Capitol Building, which is on a hill overlooking the Congaree River?

Their model was a fusion of several disparate areas of knowledge. They applied the Manning equation and the Saint-Venant Equation. They used topographical and river flow data from online databases and interpreted it using paper maps and navigation skills gained through travel in backcountry. They concluded that the flood would not reach the Capitol.

Ryan, Braxton, and Christina also won the 2005 UW Library Research award for Undergraduates for a paper based on their MCM solution.

This year's teams have now been formed and are very talented with lots of experience. As usual we have very high hopes.

Information on the local teams, including copies of the winning papers, is available at http://www.math.washington.edu/~morrow/mcm/mcm.html.