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Year 12 students challenged to use their maths skills to win £1,000

Press release issued: 4 June 2013

The University of Bristol’s Department of Engineering Mathematics has launched a nationwide mathematical challenge for Year 12 students to use their maths skills to solve an important real-world problem and win £1,000.

Academics from the department have developed the challenge based on a real-life case study to provide school children with an insight into mathematical modelling and group work, two key aspects of the degree course. The winning team will receive their prize at a celebration event in October.

The challenge is about a real-world problem – parking spaces.  Land in cities is in short supply and therefore the value of parking spaces is very high, perhaps as much as £100,000 per space in central London. Consequently new developments, such as blocks of offices or flats, are built with their own integrated underground car parks, and it is important to design them so as to fit in as many parking spaces as possible. However, it is rather difficult to find the configuration that maximises the number of spaces, particularly when the area available is an irregular shape.

Students are being asked to find the best possible layout of bays and aisles from three areas that need to be developed as car parks.

Professor Jonathan Lawry, Head of the Department of Engineering Mathematics, said: “We hope this competition will give students an insight into mathematical modelling, the art of creative problem solving with mathematics.

“Mathematics is the language of engineering and science, and mathematical modelling is crucial for developing new technologies.”

The Bristol Engineering Mathematics School Challenge is open to Year 12 students and the closing date for entries is Friday 12 July 2013. 

For more information about the challenge, visit:


Further information

About the Department of Engineering Mathematics

The Department of Engineering Mathematics is a vibrant department with a strong international reputation for teaching and research into real-world applications of mathematics. It is unique in the UK as the only mathematics department based in an engineering faculty, which gives the department unrivalled access to a wide range of industrial collaborations.

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