I got second place at the Integration Bee (So you can do it too)
I went to the Integration Bee, an event hosted by Pi Mu Epsilon and the Association for Women in Mathematics, on April 9. The contestants sat down in the Ellsworth Room in the Rensselaer Union, and were presented with a list of questions separated by difficulty—easy, medium, and hard. If you got a correct answer, you were given two points. If you got an incorrect answer, you were given one point for attempting the problem. The only way to get zero points would be if you didn’t attempt the problem at all.
It was a bit easier than I expected, but by no means was it a breeze. Initially, I expected that once we got past the medium questions we’d arrive in the territory of Calc II with its integration by parts, improper integrals, and other assorted horrors. I was surprised to see that all of the questions were within the purview of Calculus I, with even the most difficult questions being solvable using u-substitution.
This, however, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t challenging. Each contestant was given an unlimited amount of tries for a reason; you just had to get it done within five minutes. Not a lot of people got the hard questions right. In the end Ryon Chan got first place, I got second, and Saurabh Rastogi got third. Despite the hosts of the competition joking about how un-fun it probably was to sit back and do integrals for an hour and a half, I personally thought the event was really fun, and I wish more people decided to attend.
Most of the time when we’re asked to do math at RPI, it’s in the context of a class where there’s the constant stress of messing up our GPA or even worse—having to retake the class. It was really nice to just do some neat Calc I questions for a little bit without having to stress over deadlines or what grade I would get at the end.
If I were you, I’d keep an eye out for more events hosted by the Association for Women in Mathematics, as well as events hosted by Pi Mu Epsilon in the future.