NM Tech Grad Student Ranks Highly in Putnam Math Contest

Nicholas, Borchers, and Corbin

by George Zamora

Right to left: Craig Nicholas, Prof. Brian Borchers (team advisor), and John Corbin. Not pictured: Henry Horton and Ian Schroeder. Photo by Emma Lujan de Rison.

SOCORRO, N.M., March 30, 2007 – Craig Nicholas, who is now a graduate student in mathematics at New Mexico Tech, recently was ranked 208th among the top individual scorers in the 67th annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition.

During the continent-wide competition which was held this past December, Nicholas was on a team of New Mexico Tech undergraduates that placed 97th overall among all the three-person teams competing in the six-hour-long problem-solving contest. His teammates were Henry Horton and John Corbin, along with alternate team member Ian Schroeder.

A total of 3,640 students from 508 colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada participated in the latest competition.

The William Lowell Putnam Competition was established in 1938 as a means to stimulate a healthy rivalry in mathematical studies among college and university students.

The competitive examination is designed to test originality and technical competence and is open only to regularly enrolled undergraduates in the United States and Canada who have not yet received a baccalaureate degree.

Students competing in the annual event typically sit in on two three-hour-long sessions in which six mathematical problems are posed, such as the following problem: “A right circular cone has a base radius 1 and height 3. A cube is inscribed in the cone so that one face of the cube is contained in the base of the cone. What is the side-length of the cube?”

The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition is administered each year on participating college and university campuses under the auspices of the Mathematical Association of America.