Previous problem 2023

Using Land: A valuable resource

Optimal land use planning and the balancing of community values and business profits often require models that include geography, climate, business options, and community needs, and local culture to make important decisions. The community leaders and business planners are trying to decide the ‘best use’ of an available 3 square kilometer parcel of land available for development. A satellite view of the property is provided in Figure 1. The property’s boundaries are defined by five roads:

  • Northern boundary: Maiden Lane
  • Eastern boundary: Upton Road
  • Southern boundary: Maroney Road
  • Southwest boundary: Red Creek Road*
  • Western boundary: County Line Road#

*Listed as "Red Creek" on the map (Figure 1), but may be identified as Kasson Way or County Road 108 on other maps.
#Listed as "County Line" on the map (Figure 1), but may be identified as County Road 118 on other maps. This roadway also serves as the boundary between Cayuga County, New York (NY) and Wayne County, NY.

A larger version of the maps in Figure 1, as well as several additional maps of the property highlighting different aspects or the property and showing the property from different vantage points, are available to support your modeling and are accessible in the Appendix. Information about the current terrain of the parcel is noted in Figure 2. The terrain statistics include elevation, slope, aspect, tree and land cover data for the interior of the parcel.

The land is located in a rural area at a latitude of 43°N in a temperate marine climate with all four seasons including a snowy winter and has adequate water and power supplies. The soil is sufficiently rich for crop farming or grazing animals. Syracuse, NY, USA, an urban population center is approximately 50 kms away with adequate roads and transit systems to access the land.

So far in their process, the decision makers have considered the options of an outdoor sports complex, cross-country skiing facility (3-month season), a crop farm, a grazing farm/ranch, a regenerative farm, a solar array, an agrivoltaic farm, and an agritourist center. They are willing to consider other options or even divide the property into sections for different uses. They need your help to model the options and construct a decision method that will make 'best use' of the land.

IMMC Problem figures


  1. Determine a quantitative decision metric that defines "best" so the decision makers can feel confident in their final use of the land. The metric should consider short- and long-term benefits and costs.
  2. Choose at least two of the options listed above and determine the values of those options in your "best" metric. You may need to find data. You will need to decide which factors to focus and why and make assumptions including on values in order to use your metric. Explain and defend your values or use a range of values to better understand the effects and sensitivities of your assumptions.
  3. In October 2022, it was announced that Micron Technology, Inc. will build a very large semiconductor fabrication facility (fab) in Clay, NY, USA, a town just north of Syracuse, NY. Soon after the announcement, it was reported by news outlets that "If fully built, the fabs could employ up to 9,000 people making an average of $100,000 each year. They would create some 40,000 other jobs among suppliers, construction firms and other businesses. The new plant will directly support 9,000 jobs and create nearly 40,000 additional jobs."
  4. How will the new fab impact your metric? Re-evaluate the options you identified in the previous question using your "best" metric. You may also consider alternative options for using the land (either an additional item from the initial list or any other option not listed above) and evaluate that option using your "best" metric; justify your decision to consider and evaluate another option.
  5. Briefly (no more than 1 page) discuss how appropriate your model would be for use in an environment you are familiar with. Make some comments about what might have to change if the land was in a different location or country. That is, consider how generalizable your model is to other locations.

Your PDF submission should consist of:

  • One page Summary Sheet.
  • One page Letter to the Decision Makers with your recommendation.

    The audience is the 'The community leaders and business planners' tasked with solving the problem who have asked for your advice. They are already familiar with the problem (and have just read your Summary Sheet so don't restate or repeat this). The purpose of the letter is to provide important information to the decision makers, communicating key details of your recommendation.

  • One page Table of Contents.
  • Twenty pages (maximum) communicating essential aspects of your solution.
  • The following items do not count toward the 23-page limit: Reference List and Appendices.

Note: Your PDF submission must be A4 or letter size, written using no smaller than 12-point font size. For detailed information about IM2C submission guidelines and the general expectations for each portion of your solution please review the Full Submission Guidelines.


Aspect (geography) – the compass direction that a topographic slope faces.

Metric – a measure that can be determined for each option.

Quantitative – a value that can be computed.

Regenerative farm – a farm that uses a variety of sustainable agricultural practices.

Solar array – a collection of solar panels to generate electricity.

Agrivoltaic farming – planting crops under the solar array.

Agritourist center – a farm that caters to visitors to experience and learn about farming methods.

Australian judges' commentary