Location: The 2013 workshop was held at North Carolina State University. We were able to offer, to both students and problem presenters, the support of an experienced group of faculty and staff.
Objective was to expose graduate students in mathematics, engineering, and statistics to challenging and exciting real-world problems arising in industrial and government laboratory research. Students got experience in the team approach to problem solving.
Setup: The students were divided into six-member teams to collaborate on industrial projects presented by experienced scientists and engineers. The corresponding problems were not the kind of academic exercises often considered in classrooms. The challenges they raise typically require fresh new insight for both formulation and solution. During the workshop, each group was mentored by both the problem presenter and a faculty adviser.
Lea Jenkins (Clemson University) and Matthew Farthing (US Army Corps of Engineers ERDC):
Numerical Modeling and Simulation of Fluid Flow with Application to Current Environmental Challenges
Howard Chang (Emory University) and Simone Gray (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
Burden of Sexual Transmitted Diseases in the US: Trend Analysis of Incidence Rates
Jordan Massad (Sandia National Laboratories), William S. Oates (Florida State University), and Ralph Smith (North Carolina State University):
Photoresponsive Polymer Beam Design for Solar Concentrator Self-steering Heliostats
Agustin Calatroni, Henry Lynn, and Herman Mitchell (Rho) and Emily Lei Kang (University of Cincinnati):
Microbes and Molecules: A Microscopic Analysis of Asthma
Benefits to students
Do you think your class work reflects how you will be using mathematics and statistics on the job? Sometimes the biggest challenge is figuring out what the real problem is. Students learn how to do this, and also how to get a usable result on a tight deadline. By providing a unique experience of how mathematics and statistics are applied outside Academia, the workshop has helped many students in deciding what kind of career they aspire to. In some cases, this help has been in the form of direct hiring by the participating companies. By broadening the horizon beyond what is usually presented in graduate education, students interested in academic careers also find a renewed sense of excitement about their field. Additionally, students gain experience working together toward producing an oral presentation and written report of their results (see related publications) which occasionally has led to later journal publications.
Benefits to companies
Often the teams come up with useful solutions to a company’s problem. Some companies also take advantage of the recruitment opportunity provided through direct contact with some of the most talented graduate students in the mathematical sciences. Moreover, several projects initially presented at the workshop have resulted in long term collaboration between applied mathematicians (students and faculty) and the companies involved. Many companies, large and small, have shown continued interest and enthusiasm about the Workshop.
Cost: Local and travel expenses are covered.
Support: The workshop was supported by SAMSI and the Center for Research in Scientific Computation in collaboration with the NCSU Department of Mathematics.
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