Utah State University mathematics scholars were among more than 3,400 students from the United States and Canada vying in the internationally renowned William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition during the 2022-23 academic year. After completing two demanding three-hour sessions, the six-person Aggie team ranked 109 out of 456 institutions.
“That’s a top quartile finish,” says the team’s faculty mentor Nghiem Nguyen, associate professor in USU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “The Putnam competition is the preeminent mathematics competition for undergraduate college students in the United States and Canada. Our team had an excellent showing.”
USU team members included Jason Atwood, Bruce Brewer, Jake Daniels, Eliza Harris, Samuel Powell and David Rollo.
“I signed up to participate because Dr. Nguyen was the USU organizer, so I knew it would be a good experience,” says Brewer, a mathematics major and the College of Science’s 2023 Scholar of the Year. “Our team met every other week to practice, and it was a worthwhile, fun competition. I learned about competitive math, which is different from classroom math.”
Atwood says practice sessions taught him to write proofs more rigorously.
“Working on that skill has helped me in my classes — particularly in discrete math,” says the Aggie First Scholar, who is dual mathematics and physics major. “I participated in a national math competition while attending high school in Meridian, Idaho, and I wanted to do something similar at USU.”
Nguyen says the competition is a great way for students to hone their mathematical skills and build camaraderie with fellow scholars.
“We plan to sign up in September for next year’s competition, so we’d welcome new team members to succeed those who are graduating,” he says. “We have a competitive team, but we also have a lot of fun working through mathematical problems from past competitions and building knowledge.”
Interested students can contact Nguyen at email@example.com.
Comments and questions regarding this article may be directed to the contact person listed on this page.