Earlier this year, students from all across the nation gathered in an intense mathematical competition—the Virginia Tech Regional Mathematics Contest. The stakes were high and the chances for success were intimidating. Despite staggering odds, and up against over 670 other students from 28 states, BYU students Grant Molnar and Joseph Ward made the top ten! Such high rankings by our very own students is a major accomplishment, especially considering how many of the participants have spent much of their lives competing in math contests. To put their achievement in scope, many of the schools in attendance are renowned mathematical powerhouses like Harvard, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, and Duke.
The test on which our two students did so well was not an easy feat. Each student competing received an exam with seven complex questions, and each question was worth 10 points—adding up to a staggering total of 70 points. The test was so difficult that the first-place score was only a 42/70, and over 80 percent of competitors scored 0/70. Despite the test’s extreme difficulty, BYU’s Grant Molnar tied for third place with a score of 32, and Joseph Ward took tenth place with a score of 27. They accredit their success to active participation in BYU’s Problem Solving Club, the Putnam class, and undergraduate research work.
“This is an excellent accomplishment,” stated Professor Nielsen, commenting on the students’ success. We applaud both students for their mathematical talent and commend them for this impressive accomplishment.