Eighth Annual Stevens Mathematical Olympiad Demonstrates Value Beyond the Classroom (2024)

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The event welcomed Schaefer School of Engineering and Science Dean Jean Zu as the keynote speaker

Mathematics: It is a language, a mode of thinking, and the backbone of engineering, science and technology. Almost everything in our lives can be related to math in some way. Exploring the importance of this indispensable tool, over 300 elementary, middle, and high school students ventured onto the Stevens Institute of Technology campus to participate in the 2024 Stevens Mathematical Olympiad, where students grasped the possibilities of mathematics outside of their daily curriculum.

The annual competition, open to students in grades three through 12, was held at the Stevens Institute of Technology campus in Hoboken, New Jersey on Saturday, May 18. Hosted by the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the free event — now in its eighth year — has become a cornerstone of mathematical excellence in the Stevens community.

Serving as a platform for intellectual engagement, the competition introduces important mathematical concepts to students and aims to foster mathematical creativity and ingenuity.

“What an amazing event!” exclaimed a parent of a sixth grader. “My son was really excited to attend today. We live in New York, so this is our first time here on your beautiful campus, but it won’t be the last! We are looking forward to returning next year.”

Eighth Annual Stevens Mathematical Olympiad Demonstrates Value Beyond the Classroom (1)Participant tackles exam questions during the 2024 Stevens Math OlympiadThe Math Olympiad exam features 15 problems based on grade level, separated into three sets: five relatively simple problems, five average-level problems, and five advanced problems. While the problems are intended to be challenging, volunteers are available throughout every testing room to provide support and help guide students' critical thinking when needed.

“The test was challenging, but it was fun,” expressed a third grader.

“It took me some time to complete the exam this year. I had to think outside of the box for a few of the problems, but I think I did well overall,” noted a tenth grader.

“I can’t wait to do it again next year!” shared a fourth grader.

All participants were notified of their test scores via email the week following the competition. Top performers from each grade level returned to campus for the 2024 Stevens Mathematical Olympiad Awards Ceremony held on Saturday, June 8.

Eighth Annual Stevens Mathematical Olympiad Demonstrates Value Beyond the Classroom (2)Pavel Dubovski presenting awards to one of the competition winners at the 2024 Stevens Math Olympiad Awards CeremonyAs testing began for elementary and middle school students, high school students, parents, and guardians assembled in Edwin A. Stevens Hall, DeBaun Auditorium for the welcome and opening remarks provided by Pavel Dubovski, Mathematical Olympiad committee chair and Department of Mathematical Sciences teaching professor; and the keynote speech delivered by Jean Zu, Lore E. Feiler dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science.

After greeting the crowd and acknowledging the familiar faces in the room, Dubovski thanked everyone for attending before inviting Dean Zu to the podium.

A gateway to personal and academic opportunities

Beginning her talk with a brief history of Stevens along with an overview of the Schaefer School and its offerings, Zu later connected with the audience by sharing a glimpse of her personal journey, highlighting the important role math played in her early life — one that has led her to where she is today.

Born and raised in Beijing, China, Zu discovered a passion for mathematics in high school, where she began participating in math competitions.

Eighth Annual Stevens Mathematical Olympiad Demonstrates Value Beyond the Classroom (3)Dean Jean Zu addresses the audience at the 2024 Stevens Math Olympiad“When I was dreaming of my future, one thing was out of the picture: that was being the Dean of the School of Engineering and Science,” she stated. “I never thought I would go into management and leadership. But perhaps my background in math played a role in forming my logical thinking and self-discipline. I am very grateful for the fundamental training that I’ve gained from math.”

The capital ‘M’ in STEM

Mathematics is compelling in that it transcends boundaries, finding relevance in virtually every industry. It is the foundation for all engineering and science disciplines, and it is the fundamental basis of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)-related topics in our daily lives.

Underscoring that a deep understanding of mathematical principles is also key to unlocking artificial intelligence's potential, with Dean Zu adding, “As AI technologies and their applications are exploding in power and pervasiveness across society, math has become more important than ever.”

Note: All images of participants are featured with their consent.

Eighth Annual Stevens Mathematical Olympiad Demonstrates Value Beyond the Classroom (2024)
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