LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 18, 2012) -- With a math problem so complex it took four days to solve, U.S. Army officer 2nd Lt. James Jones and his University of Louisville teammates, Suraj Kannan and Joshua Mitchell, took home the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Award in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Jones' team competed with more than 3,600 teams from 17 different countries to win the online problem-solving competition.
Jones recently graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in biology and as part of the university's Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School Program. Jones was commissioned as an Army officer in February and will be attending medical school in the fall with his tuition paid by the Army under the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP).
While Jones didn't have the usual math background as other competitors, he had some knowledge of bioengineering to help with this type of applied math. He said the team had to apply a math model to a real-life situation analyzing boating and camping trips to help fictitious park managers create an optimal schedule to accommodate more tourists. They submitted their solution to the problem just minutes before the final deadline.
Jones and his team were shocked and excited to hear they won the SIAM Award given that this international award is usually won by Ivy League schools. This was the first entry into the competition by the University of Louisville. Jones and his team presented their paper on the math problem on July 11 in Minneapolis at the 2012 SIAM Annual Meeting.
Jones is currently attending Basic Officer Leadership Course at Joint Base San Antonio Fort Sam Houston. He said a basic understanding of math and science is very important for success in the Army.
"Math and science skills are essential for everyone in the Army," Jones said. "In fact, every Soldier in the Army can become a Combat Lifesaver, with medical duties such as setting up an IV, which requires math and science knowledge. These skills are important to know to help your buddy on the battlefield if something occurs until medical care can arrive."
Jones said he joined the Army not only because it offered a top-notch residency program, but because his father, who is also in the Army, shared stories of wounded warriors, and he wanted a career that allowed him to interact with and treat these Soldiers.
Jones will get a chance to work with wounded warriors through HPSP, which includes a 45-day active duty tour of clinical rotations at a medical or military hospital each summer.