Science & Technology

USU Math Team Excels in Renowned North American Mathematics Competition

Aggie scholars ranked in the top 17% of the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition.

By Mary-Ann Muffoletto |

From left, USU Putnam Mathematics Competition team members Jason Atwood, Hyrum Cooper, USU faculty mentor Nghiem Nguyen, Carter Green and Brian Armenta. Additional team members are Cole Neiderman and Emily Wessman. (Photo Credit: USU/M. Muffoletto)

Utah State University mathematics scholars were among more than 4,000 students from the United States and Canada vying in the internationally renowned William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition during the 2023-24 academic year. After completing two demanding 3-hour sessions, the six-person Aggie team ranked 77 out of 471 institutions and placed second among Utah universities. The previous year, USU ranked 109 out of 456 schools.

“We scored in the top 17 percent of competitors and we advanced in the rankings from last year,” says the team’s faculty mentor Nghiem Nguyen, associate professor in USU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “That’s an impressive improvement, which shows we’re learning from experience. 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 were Bryan Armenta Valdez, Jason Atwood, Hyrum Cooper, Carter Green, Cole Neiderman and Emily Wessman.

Atwood, who was the sole returning team member from last year’s competition, 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 like solving mathematics problems, and I’m pleased we improved upon last year’s performance.”

Cooper, a computer science major, says he loved the competition’s challenges.

“It was very satisfying to work together and make it through to the end of the competition,” he says.

Nguyen, who is the College of Science’s 2024 Undergraduate Faculty Mentor of the Year, 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 again 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 and we’re gaining momentum. We also have a lot of fun working through mathematical problems from past competitions and building knowledge.”

Interested students can contact Nguyen at nghiem.nguyen@usu.edu.

WRITER

Mary-Ann Muffoletto
Public Relations Specialist
College of Science
435-797-3517
maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu

CONTACT

Nghiem Nguyen
Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
435-797-2819
nghiem.nguyen@usu.edu


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STEM 158stories Mathematics 44stories

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