Ramya Iyer: 211+1

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Ram Iyer

Iyer posing with her trophy

Under what conditions does the square root of a2 + b2 = a + b where a and b are real numbers?

Confused? That’s okay. This was just one of the questions from the 2021 American Mathematics Competition (AMC) 12A designed for math-minded high school students. If you were able to solve that question, you should consider talking to Cypress Woods senior and AMC Maestro Ramya Iyer. 

In November 2020, Iyer took the AMC and placed as one of the top 5 females in Texas and top 150 in the nation. As a result, she qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) too. 

“I have been doing math competitions since sixth grade,” Iyer said. “So, it was really surprising and exciting and it is definitely an honor to be mentioned.”

The AMC is a bi-yearly 75-minute multiple-choice test with 25 questions. Although it is usually in-person, the pandemic allowed the participants to take the test online. According to the Mathematical Association of America website, the test covers trigonometry, advanced geometry, and advanced algebra on the test. 

“You can basically solve all the problems using a high school curriculum,” Iyer said. “But they are definitely more complex in the way that they layer the types of knowledge that you need to know.”

Math coach Ti Chang helps organize the AMC at Cy Woods each year. She has known Iyer since sixth grade when she first reached out to participate in the AMC math competition. Iyer performed so well that she was invited to take the exams in seventh and eighth grade as well. 

“I definitely was not surprised,” Chang said when describing her reaction to Iyer receiving the accolade.  “I was very pleased. She’s worked hard all these years and to be recognized as one of the top performers in Texas. I think there is something to be said about someone who can do that.”

Iyer prepared by studying previously released practice questions. She also sought help and guidance from like-minded individuals in the local math community.  

“She is able to be disciplined in secret, which is way harder than when you are in class and someone is making you do homework or study,” Chang said. 

Iyer is also a leader within the Cy Woods math community. She is the president of the math club and is a participant in the Cy Woods math UIL and advanced to state in 2021.  

“When we are having our club meetings, she does not just help the best people,” Chang said.  “She is going around helping everyone.”

She helped start a chapter of inteGIRLS, an international organization that promotes female and non-binary students in STEM. As the founder, she helps organize math contests and virtual puzzle hunts. 

“Whenever you are younger, you want to be able to be a part of your group,” Iyer said.  “You want to be able to see people who aren’t like you.”

As a female leader in STEM, Iyer has faced challenges in feeling like a part of the community. However, she has some advice for individuals feeling discouraged. 

“Just continue to have an open mind, continue to explore, try new things in the STEM area,” Iyer said.