The Society of Young Engineers Towards Achieving Excellence (SYNTAX) of De La Salle University (DLSU) held its annual SYNTAX Math Challenge last February 15 and 22, marking the first in-person iteration of the event in two years. The event is a two-day math and science competition; on the first day, nine teams, each representing an organization affiliated with a degree program under the Gokongwei College of Engineering, raced for points in the elimination round. The top five highest-scoring teams moved on to the final round for a quiz bee held the week after.
Solving with speed
For the first day, teams with the correct answer were given a hint to the location of another station of the math challenge for more opportunities to increase their score, but only correct answers within the first three attempts earned points. Soon after assembling at Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall for the opening remarks, the first question of the challenge was presented. For the succeeding questions, the teams spread out to different stations across campus from Gokongwei Hall, the Amphitheater, to the covered benches beside Velasco Hall.
At these stations, students were challenged not only in arithmetic ability but also in teamwork and creative thinking. For example, the St. La Salle Hall station instructed the competitors to spell out answers to math problems with their bodies, the Velasco Hall station made them use popsicle sticks to build a bridge that could support the weight of a notebook, and the St. Joseph Hall station had them solve problems for hints in finding items on a scavenger hunt.
After the teams had gone through all eight stations, they returned to the main venue in the Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall. While organizers tallied points, the teams created and presented their respective cheers, with the representatives from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) stealing the show with cheeky pick-up lines.
Not long after, the top five highest-scoring teams were announced: the Mechanical Engineering Society in fifth place, followed by the Chemical Engineering Society (CHEN) in fourth, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in third, the Biomedical Engineering Society (BES) in second, and the Industrial and Management Engineering Society (IMES) in the first place.
Battle for the crown
The top five teams from the elimination round faced each other for the final round in a quiz bee last February 22 at the 1903 Training Room Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall. Leading the elimination round, IMES had the advantage of going first in the annual math challenge, Defend the Castle.
Following the elimination round rankings, each team took turns answering questions of ranging difficulty from a board patterned after the quiz show Jeopardy. In all 12 rounds, each finalist could choose from a set of algebra, statistics, physics, differential calculus, trigonometry, and analytical geometry problems.
If the team answered the problem correctly, they got full points along with the chance to reduce the points of a chosen opponent by the same number. Otherwise, the remaining four teams could steal the turn and provide their answer to the problem. However, if the problem is once again answered incorrectly, the team will be penalized.
To ignite each team’s competitive spirit, they were also given the chance to choose one power-up—such as skipping another team’s turn or adding solving time for their own team—which they can use once throughout the entire challenge.
By the middle of the challenge, CHEN, SME, and BMS successfully dethroned IMES from the podium with 1440, 1430, and 1410 points, respectively. However, their reign was short-lived as the leaders of the elimination round—BES and IMES—remained strong until the end, clinching the top two spots with 1120 points and 1040 points, respectively. CHEN completed the podium after finishing third with 980 points.
All top three teams received cash prizes for their remarkable feats. The first placer, BES, went home with P2500, followed by IMES and CHEN with P1500 and P1000 each.
A shared victory
While not all teams emerged victorious from the annual challenge, SYNTAX President Haziel Lim marked the end of the event with a heartfelt reminder to all participants, “Winning or losing does not matter at the end of the day, but what is important is that you instill yourself three things: sustain your friendships, maximize your learnings from today [and] always learn from your mistakes. Lastly, camaraderie and teamwork make up the team. No man is an island, and together, you can move forward even further.”
As one of the first onsite events of the organization, SYNTAX stays true to its vision of helping young Lasallian engineers achieve excellence. Through the annual math challenge, freshman and sophomore students were put to the test—exhibiting mental prowess and camaraderie in every round. While each obstacle required a unique skill, like crunching numbers within seconds or tapping one’s creativity, a collective effort from each of the team’s members significantly helped everyone in claiming a strong finish. After two years in the online setup, SYNTAX did not disappoint in providing students with an experience they surely would not forget, and hopefully, instilling skills that they would bring as future Lasallian engineers.