FIU places second amongst Florida Schools at the 84th Putnam Math Competition


FIU Students Angel Ramirez, Michael Ibalmea, and Mencio Chez, three of the top performers on the exam.

Last December, Florida International University (FIU) students participated in 84th annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. Administered by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), this prestigious competition is renowned as one of the most challenging math tests for undergraduate students, offering cash prizes up to thousands of dollars for individual students and tens of thousands for their institutions.

Angel Ramirez, an FIU student who participated in the Putnam Competition, told us "... it was an amazing and humbling experience, one gets used to midterms and finals in difficult classes, but I never really felt 100% prepared for something like the Putnam."

This year there were over 3400 students, at over 450 institutions, who studied all year to attempt to tackle the exam this past December. Given the difficulty, attempting the exam is a great experience for undergraduates pursuing mathematics. We celebrate all students that attempted the exam.

To illustrate the difficulty of the exam, the median score of the Putnam exam is often zero. This is why it is encouraged that students seek assistance in preparing for the exams. FIU professors Gueo Grantcharov and Mirroslav Yotov have volunteered their time to help prepare FIU students that elected to take the exam. We thank them for providing assistance. Angel Ramirez mentioned "The problem-solving sessions with professors Yotov and Grantcharov were also pivotal in my preparation, since their insights on the problems we worked at provided us with experience you cannot really obtain from practice books." Michael Ibalmea, another student that completed the exam, added that he is grateful for the assistance of the professors as well.

The other part of the preparations is done by the students themselves. While preparations is not required, it surely increases one's chances of placing well with the hope of receiving a cash prize.

FIU has placed second in the MAA's Florida Section.

  • Angel Ramirez, Math Sciences, Junior, 19 points.
  • Michael Ibalmea, Math Sciences, Senior, 12 points.
  • Mencio Chez, Math Sciences, Freshman, 9 points.

Angel's score is in top 25% and Michael's in top 40% for individual rankings. All three are eligible for participation in the next Putnam exam and with ambitions to do even better. Complete results can be viewed on the MAA's document which gives placements of students in the top 500 and each MAA section. Mencio shared with us his thoughts on his score, "For a first time Putnam taker, I think I did pretty good with a score of 9. I have heard from one of my professors that the median score for the Putnam on most years is 0, so I am quite proud of my score."

Angel wished to include "I'm mostly proud of the work we did as teammates, and happy to have contributed my grain of sand toward our second place among the Florida universities." Mencio added "It was most importantly a fun and challenging experience which I look forward to repeat." Michael concluded that "I am happy with my score from this past exam, but am eagerly waiting to take it again this upcoming fall."

As FIU looks forward to next year's competition, we continue to foster a community of mathematical excellence and invite all interested students to join us in this intellectual pursuit. We are proud of our students for their performance in the Putnam exam and extend our thanks to professors Grantcharov and Yotov for their continued support of students outside of the classroom.