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Mathworks summer math projects honored in Siemens Competition

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
October 22, 2013

Five research projects conducted during Texas State University's Mathworks summer math program, the Honors Summer Math Camp (HSMC), have been honored with awards by the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology.

Texas State professors mentored teams of high school students during the 2013 HSMC, a program conducted annually by the Mathworks center. To date, more than 15 Texas State professors have been involved in mentoring research projects through the HSMC program. Texas State has helped produce 60 regional finalists in the Siemens Competition, more than any other school in the state.

"I emphasize the learning and research process and emphasize the importance of enthusiasm for the subject and the specific questions under investigation," said Eugene Curtin of the Texas State Department of Mathematics. "Many of the problems have had both a computational and a theoretical aspect, and I have been very impressed with the progress made into difficult questions.

"The results of the projects have always raised topics for further study and investigation," he said. "I have been very impressed with the persistence and hard work that the students exhibit, and I believe this has shown in their results."

Curtin's team will be sharing its research at a Discrete Math Seminar at Texas State on Friday, Nov. 1. The two HSMC research papers recognized as regional finalists are "Maximizing the Number of K-Sets" by Wei Wei Chen, Jessica Yu and Patrick Guo, mentored by Edward Early of St. Edward's University; and "A Characterization of Balance in Oriented Hypernetworks via Generalized Signed Walks" by Vinci Chen, Alex Yang and Angie Rao, mentored by Lucas Rusnak of the Texas State math department. The three HSMC research papers recognized as semifinalists this year's competition are "Generating Molecular Solubility Predictors Using Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships" by Justin Zhang, Amber Guo and Angela Feng, mentored by Carl Fisher and Eumi Pyun of 3M; "A Game of Tri: A Graph Theoretic Generalization of Hex" by Leslie Tu, Selcen Yuksel and Michaela Taylor-Williams, mentored by Curtin; and "On the Synthesis and Predictive Modeling of Stable Pigments Utilizing Silica Extracted from Rice Husk Biowastes" by Susan Xu, Lily Xu and Caroline Gao, mentored by Luyi Sun of the University of Connecticut, formerly of Texas State.

For the past 13 years, Mathworks has connected young students with professors to discover new math theorems, create new computer algorithms, devise better models for engineering and advance the boundaries of knowledge. The two regional finalist teams will advance to the regional level of the competition, competing at the University of Texas alongside other regional finalist teams from across the country.

Mathworks has had 137 semifinalists or above in the Siemens Competition. This includes 60 regional finalists and 14 national finalists. In 2009, a team of three Mathworks students won first place overall, sharing a $100,000 college scholarship.

In addition to proving new theorems and advancing fundamental knowledge, the mentors help the students translate their work into real-world applications, such as applying math models to improve networks, something that has risen to vast importance in today's Internet-connected world.

This year's competition included more than 1,590 entries from across the nation. The Siemens Competition is a nation-wide contest for high school students to submit original research projects in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM). It is also one of the few research contests that include a team division, allowing teams of up to three students to submit their work.

For more information, contact Andrew Hsiau at andrewh@txstate.edu or via phone at (512) 245-3626.