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MDX student teams triumph in mathematical modelling and business case competitions

"I am so proud of my students’ brilliant team work and outstanding achievements" - Dr Helen Cai, Senior Lecturer in International Business

Image of a certificate for maths modelling competitionA MDX team won a top prize in the prestigious 2021 Asia and Pacific Mathematical Contest in Modelling (APMCM), putting them in the top 5% of entrants which included Oxford, Tsinghua, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and New York Universities.

Meanwhile three MDX student teams, more than from any other institution, won awards in the inaugural Emerald/ICRA International Student Case Competition, which tests analysis and insight through the solution of real-life business cases from Emerald Emerging Market Case Studies.

The APMCM - in which 27,000 students from 820 universities entered - requires students to solve practical problems using mathematical modelling over a four-day timeframe, to popularise knowledge of the discipline. The team of Lan Guo, Yi Zheng and Fengyang Chang studied the ecological impact of Saihanba National Forest Park, north-east China, and its newly planned ecosystem, by using a suitable model.

Competitors extended the Saihanba ecological protection model to the whole of China and the entire Asia-Pacific region to analyse the protected area's impact on achieving carbon neutrality goals and reducing carbon emissions.

A misty landscape of hills and trees in Saihanba National Forest Park, China, seen from 100m above the ground Saihanba National Forest Park, China

The Emerald/ICRA competition involved studying cases relating to Huawei and automotive company Geely, producing a slide deck and subsequently a presentation for the Huawei case, and a report for the Geely one.

A graphic to mark a Middlesex student team winning Best Collaboration Award in the Emerald/ICRA Business Case competition. The graphic shows headshots of three East Asian female students, one in a black top, one in a light blue top, one in a jacket with a separate pussy-bow tieMDX teams won prizes for Best Collaboration (Aoran Li, Langkun Yuan and Zhaoyue Gao), Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Minh Anh Ngo, Nimota Y Shotunde and Thi Ngoc Anh Duong) and Third Prize overall (Haoyu Ma, Lan Guo, Jiarong Tian and Xianfeng Han).

The judges, who included representatives from industry and academia, were very impressed with the MDX students’ achievement, especially their ideas for future industry.

A graphic to mark a competition award for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion for a Middlesex University team, featuring headshots of three students, one a young black woman in a chequered jacket, the other two young East Asian women in white shirtsThe winning students in both competition are all on MDX Business School's BA Business & Management Top-up programme. This programme is taught bilingually, giving it a rare edge and helping the students improve their competitiveness in national and international contexts.

The course has created "a strong scientific community fostering innovative critical thinking, analysis and transferable skills," says Professor of International Management Anne-Wil Harzing.

Headshot of young Chinese woman with dark hairLan Guo, who was the only student to win prizes in both the competitions, admits it was hard work preparing for the APMCM. "There are many models that can be chosen" she says. "So we didn’t know which model fits the case best and had to compare and choose the most suitable one... Luckily, we showed satisfactory results, then made a wonderful presentation and overcame our fear under the guidance of Dr Helen [Cai, Programme Leader of BA Business and Management Top-Up Year 2 & 3].

Lan, who says it has been her dream to study in the UK since she was a senior high student, has found the bilingual study mode on the business programme "very interesting. I get exposed to two totally different environments and make friends from all over the world. I've widened my views, learned to accept differences and overcome cultural shock".

The highlight for her of the course so far has been Modes of Entry and Investment for Asia. She hopes to become a Business professor herself, after earning her Master's degree and a doctorate.

"I am so proud of my students’ brilliant team work and outstanding achievements" says Helen Cai, who was thrilled to have been nominated herself in the Teaching Excellence category at last year's MDX Student-Led Teaching Awards.

"Close communication between academics and industry enabled our students' knowledge translation and skill building to develop professional skills that increase employability," she says.

"Helen was tireless in her support [of the APMCM team,] meeting up with students every Wednesday and Saturday for a month" says Professor Harzing. "I'm so proud our students are using their academic skills to address real world problems".

Anne-Wil, who co-founded sector-wide female academic support network CYGNA, adds that in the Emerald/ICRA competition, she is "particularly pleased to see that eight of the nine students are female, no doubt due to Helen being a great role model for them".

To find out more about studying BA Business Management (1 year top-up) at MDX, click here

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