Two students excel in prestigious Putnam Exam

The Putnam Exam is a prestigious mathematical exam for undergraduate students. Usually, the median score is a zero. 

This year three Washburn students participated in the Putnam Exam, which lasts for 6 hours. Rahasya Bharaniah scored 4 points, and Jonathan Tyler scored 1 point. Bharaniah and Tyler placed in the top 35 percent and 59 percent, respectively, in the nation.

This marks the first time in at least 13 years that more than one Washburn student scored above a 0 on the prestigious exam. 

The three students were not only competing against Washburn students, but students from Harvard, MIT, Princeton and other prestigious institutions.

Bharaniah is a sophomore majoring in applied statistics and a minor in computer science. When he originally came to Washburn, he majored in actuarial science.

This year is the second time Bharaniah has taken the Putnam Exam.

“I didn’t [study]. The recommended study material is all math, so there’s not really studying for the material.”

Bharaniah has taken 15 math courses since he has been in college. Taking the Putnam Exams are one of his most memorable moments at Washburn.

Bharaniah was nowhere near stressed out about competing against schools such as Harvard and MIT. He just wanted to have fun and try to solve interesting, complicated math problems.

Always having a love for math, Bharaniah spreads the love and joy for math to others through tutoring.

“I get to spend three hours doing what I love, and second of all, I get to help people and I think that is really enriching to know that what I do on a daily basis is making people’s lives better,” he said.   

Bharaniah has placed in mathematical tournaments numerous times. When he was in high school scholar’s bowl, his team won many times. He also got third place at a Kansas math competition when he was a senior in high school.

He decided to come to college because he loves learning, but he still hates homework. His favorite class he is currently taking is Time Series because he gets to learn how to display and create models to represent data that goes through time.

Gaspar Porta, associate professor for mathematics and statistics and a contributor to the Putnam exams, vouched for Bharaniah’s intelligence and dedication.

“He has a very healthy attitude towards being smart enough to do something,” said Porta.

Bharaniah respects Porta very much.

“He’s very intelligent, and it is just incredible to see him instantly answer a question,” said Bharaniah. 

Bharaniah mentioned that he is very certain he is going to grad school for statistics, but is undecided which concentration of statistics he will go for. He then plans on working as a statistician or become a teacher.

“I just plan on becoming successful.”