Pellissippi State math students mark record finish in national competition

Pellissippi State finished second in the Southeast in the 2011-12 national Student Math League competition sponsored by the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. Some of the top-scoring participants, left to right, are Trevor Sharpe, who won first place in the individual category in the region; Chris Salvo; Hannah Hale; and Christopher Shutt.

It all adds up to a historic finish for Pellissippi State Community College math students.

The college’s team has placed second in the Southeast Region and student Trevor Sharpe has taken the top individual score in the second and final round of the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges’ Student Mathematics League Math Competition.

The results were announced this month. Sharpe, a 16-year-old high school student enrolled in Pellissippi State’s Fast Forward program during the recently ended school year, retained his individual ranking of number one in the Southeast from the first round. Fast Forward, the institution’s dual enrollment program, allows high school juniors and seniors to earn both high school and college credit for the same course.

The math competition consists of two tests each academic year: round one in the fall and round two in the spring. The Pellissippi State team placed second both times.

The one-hour multiple-choice test at the precalculus level is administered at local campuses across the country during a two-week window. Any student who has not already earned a degree is allowed to compete. About 180 students took part at Pellissippi State.

Bobby Jackson, associate math professor and contest coordinator for the college, estimates that well over 10,000 students participate nationally each year. Pellissippi State awards top-scoring students locally, and the AMATYC awards the top national team and individual honors.

“We’ve never scored this high before,” Jackson said. “Our team maintained second place despite having to compete without our number two team member during round two.”

The Pellissippi State team came in just behind Georgia Perimeter College, and ahead of 22 other schools, including Wake (N.C.) Technical Community College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Miami Dade College and Chattanooga State Community College.

The top five scorers for Pellissippi State in the fall competition were Sharpe, Christopher Shutt, Harry Hughes, Connor Corcoran and Isa Dauti. Top scorers this spring were Robert Drake, Christopher Salvo, Calvin Scott, Jonathan Rowe and Sharpe.

Pellissippi State has participated in the AMATYC competition since 1998, Jackson says.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to take part in something outside of the classroom that is challenging, fun and competitive,” he said.

The Student Mathematics League was founded in 1970 by Nassau Community College in New York. The AMATYC assumed sponsorship in 1981, and the league has grown to more than 165 colleges in more than 35 states, as well as Bermuda.