LaGuardia Community College Students Had Top Score in New York State Math Competition

Long Island City, NY—A team of LaGuardia Community College students solved a series of complex mathematical problems that added up to the top scores in the team and individual categories of the Fall 2012 New York State Mathematics Association for Two Year Colleges Math League Contest (NYSMATYC).

Yifei Shen, who competed against 663 number crunchers in the one-hour, 20-question exam that tested the students’ creative thinking and mathematical insight, received the highest score in the individual rankings.

In the team contest, Yifei’s and his four teammates–Seung Hwan Oh, Qing Sheng Chen, Jason Fontaine and Ye Ji Lee–had combined scores that beat out the 30 community college teams.

“This is wonderful news indeed for the Mathematics, Engineering and Computer Department and LaGuardia,” said Dr. Kamal Hajallie, chair of the department, who added that this was the first time LaGuardia students competed in this statewide competition.  “It goes to show that with proper guidance and support, our students can compete with the best of them and come out on top.  The department is proud of the achievement of the students and mentors.”

To prepare the students for the contests, math faculty volunteered to hold weekly practice sessions.  “This was a true department-centric event,” said Dr. Reem Jaafar, a mathematics professor.  “Everyone did their part to get our students ready for the competition.”

And they did.  Yifei said the informal faculty sessions helped him to prepare for the “extremely difficult” problems.

In describing the competition, the contest winner said the one-hour time limit made the problems much more challenging.  “Since you had only three minutes to complete each complex problem, you not only had to have a solid mathematical understanding, you had to be fast,” said Yifei.  “You did not have time to think about what principles to apply. You immediately had to know how to tackle the problem.”

The fall contest, which was held on LaGuardia on November 9, was the first leg of a two-part competition that will stage the second round in the spring.  At the final competition the fall-spring scores will be added up and one college will be announced the victor.

Founded in 1967, NYSMATYC is a professional association devoted to the unique problems of teaching math at the freshman-sophomore college level.  It has a membership of over 350 institutions representing more than 50 of the state’s community colleges.

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.