News Center

Two Teams of Hendrix College Students Earn Honors in Mathematical, Interdisciplinary Modeling Competition

Time-lapse courtesy Billy Hayes; photo courtesy Jack Lester.

CONWAY, Ark. (May 5, 2020) – The results are in, and two teams from Hendrix College have earned honors in the COMAP International Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM). The contest, which was held Feb. 13-17, 2020, brought together Hendrix computer science, mathematics, and physics students for a weekend of work in teams of three to tackle their choice of six real-world mathematical modeling problems. More than 20,000 teams participated worldwide, and results were announced April 24.

COMAP, the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications, is an award-winning nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve mathematics education for students of all ages. This year, students had the choice of MCM problems A, B, and C, and Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM) problems D, E, and F.

Andrew King ’21, Jack Lester ’21, and Eric Pinter ’21 chose MCM problem A and focused on climate-influenced fish migration near Scotland. They developed temperature and migration models to understand the effects of this migration on the local fishing industries. Their work earned them a Meritorious designation, placing them in the top 8% of all MCM teams.

“Participating in the MCM was a very enriching experience!” said Lester. “I learned a lot about myself as a member of a team and what I may end up pursuing after school as a career.”

Billy Hayes ’20, Cameron Minor ’21, and Kate Sanders ’20 chose ICM problem D and focused on data snapshots from soccer games. Using this data, they generated network models and decision trees to understand the elements of teamwork via passing to score goals. They finished in the top 34% of ICM teams, earning an Honorable Mention designation.

“I love being able to work really hard on an interesting problem with people I enjoy, even if it’s just for a few days,” Sanders said. “Diving into a new topic is fun, and it makes me feel like I want a lot of variety and interdisciplinary teamwork in my future career.”

“This is the first year we have had multiple teams earn high designations,” said Dr. Mark Goadrich, associate professor of mathematics and computer science at Hendrix. “Teams are judged not only their mathematical models, but their ability to clearly explain and reason about their results. Our students really did outstanding work bringing liberal arts skills to bear on these problems.”

Hendrix students’ participation in this contest was funded by an Odyssey Program grant for special projects. Since 2005, the Odyssey Program has provided more than $4 million in funding for student and faculty engaged learning pursuits.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit