Mathematical Sciences receives $3,000 Grant

Adam Wolffbrandt/Chicago Tribune/MCT
Rebeka Sendroiu works on math problems during the Intermediate Algebra class at Oakton Community College, Oct. 11, 2013, in Des Plaines, Ill. Sendroiu said the class was required for her major to be an ultrasound technician.

Vicky Smith
Managing Editor
@pinkwritinglady

The National Science Foundation/Mathematical Association of America (MAA) awarded the Cameron University Department of Mathematical Sciences a $3,000 grant, which will enable math, chemistry, biology, engineering and computing and technology students to participate in MAA’s Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences (PIC) program.
Cameron is one of only 49 schools across the nation that MAA selected for the grant.
Associate professor of mathematics and chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences Dr. Narayan Thapa said PIC is a program that bridges predominantly undergraduate institutions’ math programs to business, industry and government.
“The goal is to show what kind of opportunity you can have in the government sector,” Thapa said, “what kind of opportunity you can have in the industry and the business.”
Thapa said there is a common misunderstanding that people with an undergraduate math degree have a difficult time finding jobs.
“In fact, that is not true,” he said. “There are thousands of undergraduate mathematic majors. They are in business. They are in the government. They are in industry.
“[The program raises] awareness that there are thousands of opportunities for the students.”
Thapa said students who participate in the PIC program will engage in real-world research.
“We as a department can go in the local industries,” he said, “and if they have some problems for the students, then we try to solve [them].
“For example, the police department – what is the crime rate here in Lawton, and which direction it is going? What are the components, would we like to do some research, [and] are they ready to release the current data?”
Mathematics instructor Irene Corriette said the program ties into the mission of the department, as well as the mission of Cameron.
“The whole point of preparing our undergrad students is more than just the knowledge base but also preparing them for real-world issues,” Corriette said. “This [program] gives them an opportunity to have a feel for what they could do and how their learning could be applied in actual industry situations.”
Dr. Hong Li, associate professor of mathematical sciences, said the real-world experience the students gain is an element they may not receive in the classroom alone.
“I think that would definitely help for their careers later on after they graduate,” Li said.
Dr. Ioannis Argyros, professor of mathematical sciences, agreed with Li. He said when students graduate, they will be competing for job positions.
“If their resume contains something that the other resumes do not contain, such as working on live projects, then that puts them at the top of the list for getting hired,” Argyros said. “That’s one benefit that they have.”
Thapa said ultimately, he and the faculty members would like to help students accomplish their goals.
“Whether their goal is going through graduate school or job market – whatever it is – we would like to work with them side by side,” he said. “Every day, we’re meeting with our students, and we’re excited.”
Assistant professor of mathematical sciences Dr. James Dover said he and the faculty members look forward to seeing students grow as they learn more.
“We want to see fruits of their efforts and of our efforts helping them,” Dover said, “– the satisfaction of that.”

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