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APSU mathematics students take top honors in international contest

How many sprinklers must a rancher have and where should they be positioned to irrigate a rectangular field?

Solving such real-world issues helped three mathematics students at Austin Peay State University to place in the International Mathematics Contest in Modeling, conducted online Feb. 2-6.

The students – Gayle Anderson, Andria Huggins and Daniel Mayo, all seniors in Dr. Nell Rayburns mathematical modeling class – make up the winning team. How many sprinklers must a rancher have and where should they be positioned to irrigate a rectangular field?

Solving such real-world issues helped three mathematics students at Austin Peay State University to place in the International Mathematics Contest in Modeling, conducted online Feb. 2-6.

The students — Gayle Anderson, Andria Huggins and Daniel Mayo, all seniors in Dr. Nell Rayburn's mathematical modeling class — make up the winning team.
APSU was among 748 mathematical teams from around world to participate in the contest. Twelve teams were awarded an “outstanding” distinction, the competition's highest rating; 122 schools, including APSU, received “meritorious” standing; “honorable mentions” were awarded to 188 teams; and 426, or more than half of the teams, were “successful participants.”

Each team chose one of three problems. APSU's modeling team chose “Positioning and Moving Sprinkler Systems for Irrigation.”

Teams had four days to research the problem, find a solution and write a report. Students were allowed to use books, the Internet and computers; however, they could not consult with other people.

In the problem, APSU had to determine how many sprinklers to put in a set, how many sets to use, where to place the sets and other factors to minimize the amount of time a rancher would need in moving the sprinklers for coverage of a rectangular field. Other considerations involved the rate of flow in the pipes, the diameters of the pipes, the circular area covered by each sprinkler and the condition that every part of the field must be covered without saturation.

Teams who finished in the same category as APSU and with the same problem were from such prestigious universities as Wake Forest, John Hopkins, Cal Tech, Berkeley, Rensselaer and Cornell.

The APSU team's complete report can be seen in Claxton Building, Room 304.

For more information, contact Dr. Larry Hoehn, professor and chair of the APSU Department of Mathematics, by telephone at (931) 221-7815 or by e-mail at hoehnl@apsu.edu. -- Melony Leazer