Modeling the Future Challenge Mentors Impressed by Student Projects

January 29, 2021

The Modeling the Future Challenge (MTFC) is a premier high school math modeling and data analysis competition and one of the cornerstone educational programs of The Actuarial Foundation. Developed with the Institute of Competition Sciences, the premise of the MTFC is simple: Junior and senior high school students are challenged to develop and present their own mathematical models of how a new technology or industry might change the future. They analyze real-world data to project future trends and make recommendations to help mitigate risks.

There was no set theme for the 2020–2021 Challenge, so students identified their own topics for their research projects. Of the 195 teams that registered and completed Phase 1 of the Challenge, 78 semi-finalist teams made it to Phase 2—the Project Phase.

During the Project Phase, each team was matched with an actuarial mentor to provide high-level guidance on their project. Mentors met virtually with their teams three times during the project period to answer questions and help the team develop an actuarial report and presentation.

The actuarial mentors were impressed after meeting with the project teams. Ryan Benitez, ASA, MAAA, Associate Actuary at Cheiron, said to his team: “To me, this is work that I would consider beyond high school. But you’ve proven me wrong I guess.”

Paul Heffernan, FSA, MAAA, Vice President and Actuary at Prudential, said his first reaction to his team was that they had a lot of good ideas and the foundation for a nice, strong project. “You’ve identified something with a need that could benefit from math modeling,” he said.

Meghan Genardi, Actuarial Analyst at Willis Towers Watson, thinks her team has a leg up over the competition. “Your actual modeling methodology seems like you know what you are doing,” she told them.

Part of being a mentor for the MTFC is helping students understand the actuarial process. It gives these students the opportunity to learn more about highly sought-after careers as actuaries and other STEM-related professional opportunities.

Thank you to all of the MTFC mentors who have been so generous with their time helping the semi-finalist teams with their projects. After the Project Phase of the Challenge concludes on February 26, finalists for the 2021 Symposium will be announced on March 12.

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