War Stories from Applied Math

War Stories from Applied Math: Undergraduate Consultancy Projects

Edited by Robert Fraga
Series: MAA Notes
Volume: 71
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 156
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  • Book Info
    War Stories from Applied Math
    Book Description:

    This book deals with issues involved in setting up and running a program which allows undergraduate students to work on problems from real world sources. A number of practitioners share their experiences with the reader. How are such programs set up and what resources are required? How are clients found? What problems are suitable for students to work on? What difficulties can be anticipated and how can they be resolved? What benefits does the client derive from the students' work and what do the students get out of such projects? These issues and others like them are explored in a number of different academic environments. It is the contention of this book that students develop an appreciation of mathematics and its usefulness by engaging in programs such as those described here. Furthermore it is possible to develop such programs for a variety of student audiences over a wide spectrum of colleges and universities. A chapter is devoted to relevant materials available from the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP). Lists of student projects and examples of their work are provided. There is also a discussion of the pros and cons of consultancy projects by representatives of industry familiar with such project.

    eISBN: 978-0-88385-977-3
    Subjects: Mathematics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    Robert Fraga

    What good is mathematics? What issupply-your-favorite-topic-commonly-taught-in-any-math-courseused for?

    Have you ever had undergraduate students ask either of these questions? If not, you are in a very small minority of college math teachers, probably a set of measure zero. If you have had either of these questions asked, how do you answer? The first question is such a blockbuster that it invites a sweeping reply although one that could be given incrementally: Bar codes to bridges. The second question cannot be satisfactorily answered without some feel for the interests of the person asking the question. Suppose it is pre-med students...

  4. An Industrial Mathematics Program
    (pp. 5-24)
    George Corliss

    Our program at Marquette is a small do-it-yourself operation, but you might still get some useful ideas from it. This chapter tells the story of what seems to work for us, with all its warts and struggles. I offer these observations not as an authority but as one who has had some experiences others might use.

    Industrial Mathematics in the Marquette University Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (MSCS) has the following components:

    Faculty orientation and perspective

    Influence of biological mathematics

    Course projects

    Course offerings

    Work experience

    Industrial-based graduate research assistants

    Career counselling

    Consulting and research

    It is a...

  5. Source of Problems: Industrial Contacts
    (pp. 25-38)
    Robert Borrelli

    Harvey Mudd College (HMC) students may be involved in an industrial mathematics project through the college’s Mathematics Clinic which runs for a full academic year. We call our program the Mathematics Clinic, a name which exposes us to some criticism. In mathematics, a “clinic” is a place for remedial work, right? You go to the clinic if you can’t do the problem. At HMC, the word “clinic” is more closely related to what hospitals do. If you are sick, you might go to a major university hospital that has a board of experts, and this board of experts will analyze...

  6. Panel Discussion Following “Industrial Contacts”
    (pp. 39-46)
    Mark Kopczynski, Dirk Wilken, Dan Guaglianone, George Corliss, Martha Siegel and Robert Borrelli

    How are projects undertaken by students, as described in the preceding chapters, perceived by their clients? To gain some insight into their point of view, the editor invited several representatives from various industries to talk about their own perception of student projects. An edited version of their comments is given below.

    Participants and their affiliations are as follows:

    Mark Kopczynski [MK], Allen Bradley Company

    Dirk Wilken [DW], Harley Davidson Company

    Dan Guaglianone [DG], Abbott Laboratories

    Martha Siegel [MS], Towson State University

    George Corliss [GC], Marquette University

    Robert Borrelli [RB], Harvey Mudd College

    MK: One of the most important issues to...

  7. Course Integration
    (pp. 47-54)
    George Corliss

    Contributors to this chapter include Peter Tonellato, a professor of mathematics at Marquette, and Kate McCready, who at the time managed the Funding Information Center at Marquette.

    After Bob Borrelli’s remarks, you may be saying to yourself, “Gee, I don’t have a director, a secretarial staff, and all the wonderful resources Bob has at Harvey Mudd. I guess I can’t do anything at all.”

    False. You and I have the power to decide how we want to teach our courses. I teach classes in mathematical modeling, in computer systems analysis, and one summer in web development using a strong class...

  8. The Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP)
    (pp. 55-66)
    Paul Campbell

    Let me tell you a little bit about the nonprofit organization COMAP and its history. The name is an acronym from the first initials of the words in its full name, and many of COMAP’s projects have the syllable “MAP” at the ends of their names. COMAP, the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications, was founded more than 25 years ago by Sol Garfunkel, who had been a professor of mathematical logic at Cornell University and a teacher of mine. COMAP has a multi-million dollar annual budget (a substantial fraction of that of the Mathematical Association of America, for instance)....

  9. Program Management
    (pp. 67-80)
    Martha Siegel

    I come from a different type of institution than other contributors to this book, and I want to point out that it is possible to do student consultancy projects without having the kind of institutional support that Bob Borrelli has. This chapter tells a little about the history of our projects and the way we manage the program. I also will give you some ideas on alternative management schemes.

    In 1979, a small group of mathematicians at Towson decided that Claremont had a very good idea. We invited Jerry Spanier, then the Head of the Claremont Clinic, to come to...

  10. Project Deliverables I
    (pp. 81-92)
    Robert Borrelli

    I can give a little perspective on the list of reports which follows. One of these is reproduced in its entirety in the Appendix. Reports are pretty thin because we don’t believe in putting in lots of stuff. Most of the work has already been done and given to the client. All of the software has been installed and the documentation written. The final report is more of a formality which brings everything together to make it look nice, something that the liaison can take to the boss and say, “Here’s the conclusion of the project.” We bind it and...

  11. Project Deliverables II
    (pp. 93-98)
    Tom Davis

    At the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), where I worked for 28 years, we had a lot of projects along the lines of what Bob Borrelli did at Harvey Mudd. We probably did somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 projects: a large number, and during my first two years at Super Steel, we probably did 20. One thing that I would encourage people interested in these projects to do is to identify up front the project variables. Hearing a little of Bob’s horror story brought to mind the importance of defining, very clearly in writing, what the variables are and...

  12. Using Projects from Industry to Teach Mathematics and Statistics to Liberal Arts Majors
    (pp. 99-104)
    Daniel Maki

    Since 1990, Indiana University has offered a junior-senior level course which is designed to teach selected students how to use mathematical and statistical techniques to solve real problems and projects presented to them by companies and by units of government. In this chapter we discuss the nature of the course, the types of projects, the mathematical and statistical topics usually taught in the course, and the results of evaluations of the course.

    The course described in this chapter is part of the Indiana University (IU) LAMP program. The acronym LAMP stands for Liberal Arts and Management Program, and the associated...

  13. Mathematical Modeling in ICIC Projects
    (pp. 105-118)
    Robert Fraga

    All the participants at the Marquette workshop who have contributed to this book come from large and/or elite schools. Can those of us who work at small liberal arts colleges which don’t have the prestige of Harvey Mudd College do what Bob Borrelli does there? How can we start building the track record which he suggests is necessary to win projects? These are not easy questions, and answers will vary from one place to another, but I can share my experiences at Baker University, where I have worked for the past eight years and at Ripon College, where I worked...

  14. Appendix: A Sample HMC Report
    (pp. 119-147)