Dr. Leon Seitelman Served as Head Judge in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2008

May 22, 2008

Dr. Leon Seitelman, a resident of Glastonbury, Connecticut, and a longtime advocate for educational issues, recently moderated the judging for Moody's Mega Math (M3) Challenge 2008. The M3 Challenge, now in its third year, is an Internet-based applied mathematics competition that requires teams of high school students in the Boston, New York, and Philadelphia metropolitan and surrounding areas to solve an open-ended, realistic, challenging modeling problem focused on real-world issues in only 14 hours. At the Final Presentations and Awards Ceremony on April 30, the contest awarded a total of $65,000 in college scholarships to 50 high school junior and seniors.

Seitelman, who acted as this year's head judge and moderator, was instrumental in developing the groundwork for the M3 Challenge. In conjunction with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and co-consultant Dr. Ben Fusaro, Seitelman formulated processes for the contest, with particular emphasis on problem development and judging. Seitelman worked on a broad spectrum of mathematical problems in computer-aided design, analysis and manufacturing, economic modeling and engineering analysis, and optimization during his 30-year career at United Technologies Corporation. Seitelman also worked for 20 years with the Wesleyan University-based Project to Improve Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), a pioneering K-12 education effort; developed and chaired the SIAM Visiting Lecturer Program; taught at the University of Connecticut, Trinity College, and Rensselaer at Hartford; and was instrumental in the founding of the Mathematical Contest in Modeling for collegians, conceived and developed by Fusaro.

This year's problem, authored by Seitelman and titled "Energy Independence Meets the Law of Unintended Consequences," required participants to examine unplanned outcomes associated with diverting part of the food crop to the production of ethanol for gasoline.

Judging for the Challenge features a rigorous, intense, three-step process by professional Ph.D.-level applied mathematicians and modelers. The judging sequence begins with math professionals doing "triage" judging in two locations. Solution papers then undergo multiple readings, after which about one-fourth of the papers advance to a second round of judging. The "round two" judging, in which Seitelman served as Head Judge, involves more intensive additional readings of each paper, and results in convergence to a tentative ranking of winners. Finally, members of the top six teams are required to present their winning solutions to a panel of professional applied mathematicians at the Moody's Corporation headquarters during validation judging. The presentations and validation process, which Seitelman moderated this year, determines the final rank of winning papers. Until the presentation round, judging is blind.

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About the Challenge
The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool, as a viable and exciting profession, and as a vital contributor to advances in an increasingly technical society. Scholarship prizes total $65,000. The Challenge is entirely Internet-based and there are no entrance or participation fees. Each high school may enter up to two teams of three to five students each. Students choose which day they wish to work on Challenge weekend and have 14 hours to solve an open-ended, realistic, applied math-modeling problem focused on real-world issues. Teams can work from any location they choose and can use any free and publicly available resources, but they may not discuss any aspect of the problem with, or seek help from, their coach or anyone other than their teammates. Complete details, sample problems, and archives of previous winners and Challenge events are available at http://m3challenge.siam.org.

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) awarded Moody's Corporation a 2008 Excellence Award for Moody's Mega Math Challenge, citing the company's "sophisticated giving program that encourages students to develop a passion for mathematics, economics, and finance."

About the Sponsor
The Moody's Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting a variety of nonprofit education, health and human services, civic, and arts and culture programs. Established by Moody's Corporation in 2001, the Foundation's primary area of giving is secondary and higher education with a focus on mathematics, economics and finance. Further information is available at http://philanthropy.moodys.com.

Moody's Corporation (NYSE: MCO), an essential component of the global capital markets, provides credit ratings, research, tools and analysis that contribute to stable, transparent and integrated financial markets. Moody's Corporation is the parent company of Moody's Investors Service and Moody's Analytics, encompassing Moody's non-ratings businesses. With revenues of $2.3 billion in 2007, Moody's employs approximately 3,600 people worldwide and maintains a presence in 27 countries. Further information is available at www.moodys.com.

About the Organizer
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, is an international society of over 11,000 individual members. These include applied and computational mathematicians and computer scientists, as well as other scientists and engineers. Members are researchers, educators, students, and practitioners from 85 countries in industry, government, laboratories, and academia. The Society, which also includes more than 500 academic and corporate institutional members, serves and advances the disciplines of applied mathematics and computational science by publishing a variety of books and prestigious peer-reviewed research journals, by conducting conferences, and by hosting activity groups in various areas of mathematics. SIAM provides many opportunities for students including regional sections and student chapters. Further information is available at www.siam.org.


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