You are here

Undergraduate Student Activities

MAA-PME Student Reception

Wednesday, August 6, 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Pavilion East

Math Jeopardy

Wednesday, August 6, 5:30 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.

Answer:  A fun undergraduate mathematics contest to lead off MathFest.
Question:  What is Mathematics Jeopardy?
Four teams of students will provide the questions to go with the mathematical answers in many categories.

New Format This Year: All interested students in the audience can enter their names to be chosen to play on one of the four teams of four players. There will be prizes for all the participants.

Come cheer for your favorite team. The session will be emceed by Michael Berry.

Robert Vallin, Lamar University
Michael Berry, University of Tennessee

MAA Student Paper Sessions

Thursday, August 7, 8:30 a.m. - 10:25 a.m.; 2:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.
Friday, August 8, 8:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.; 2:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.

Theron J. HitchmanUniversity of Northern Iowa
Jennifer BergnerSalisbury University

The MAA Student Paper Sessions need judges! The 15-minute presentations are scheduled between 8:30 - 10:25 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 5:55 p.m. on Thursday and Friday morning from 8:30 a.m. - noon. The main goal of these sessions it to give all advisor-sponsored students a chance to speak about mathematics to a supportive national audience. Judging these sessions is easy and rewarding. If you wish to volunteer your time to judge one or more student presentations contact Jennifer Bergner ( and use the subject heading “Mathfest judge”. Indicate the times that you are available, subjects that you feel comfortable judging and those you would feel uncomfortable judging, and how to contact you before and during the meetings. All judging sheets and additional information on judging will be provided at the meetings.

Pi Mu Epsilon Student Paper Sessions

Thursday, August 7, 2:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.
Friday, August 8, 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.; 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Angela SpalsburyYoungstown State University

Student Hospitality Center

Thursday, August 7, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Hilton Portland, Exhibit Hall
Friday, August 8, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
, Hilton Portland, Exhibit Hall
Saturday, August 9, 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Hilton Portland, Exhibit Hall

The Student Hospitality Center provides a place for students and other MAA MathFest attendees to meet for informal conversation, refreshments, and mathematical diversions. 

Richard Neal, American Society for the Communication of Mathematics
Araceli NealAmerican Society for the Communication of Mathematics

The Jean Bee Chan and Peter Stanek Lecture for Students

The Founding of Pi Mu Epsilon 100 Years Ago

Thursday, August 7, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom I

Jack GraverSyracuse University

On December 8, 1913 the Mathematical Club of Syracuse University met on the 10th anniversary of it’s founding.  “Miss Florence Richert presented the paper ‘The Evaluation and Transcendence of Pi.’ Discussion followed the reading of the paper.”  There was a short business meeting before refreshments at which “Dr. Roe gave the report of committee appointed to consider changing the Club into a Mathematical Fraternity.”  The decision was made to proceed with this project and during the Spring semester of 1914 the details were worked out and PME was incorporated in New York State.

What did they want to accomplish by taking this action? What was background against which the decision to found PME was made? Using the Archives of Syracuse University and the detailed notes left by the founders, I hope to answer these questions and to develop an understanding of the historical context in which PME was born.


Thursday, August 7, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Pavilion West

They're called Fermi problems...

  • How many stop signs are in New York City?

  • How many babies were born in 1900?

  • How many Social Security Numbers are prime?

If you're looking for a mindbending mixture of math and trivia, look no further! Jane Street Capital presents The Estimathon contest: attempt 13 Fermi problems in 30 minutes, ranging from totally trivial to positively Putnamesque. Work in teams (of up to 5 people per team) to come up with the best set of confidence intervals. The top teams will receive prizes!

Contest rules can be found here. If you are interested in participating, sign up here. If you have further questions, feel free to contact the organizers at

Andy Niedermaier, Jane Street Capital

MAA Undergraduate Student Activity

Mathematical Research, It's Knot What You Think!

Friday, August 8, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Pavilion East

Take a piece of string, tie a knot into it and glue the ends of the string together into a closed loop, and you have a mathematical knot.  This simple process demonstrates the appeal of knot theory – it is very hands-on and accessible to undergraduate research.  In this student activity, we will work with two representations of knots: knot mosaics and cubic lattice knots.  Using knot kits that participants can keep, we will explore the very new area of knot mosaics (2008, Lomonaco and Kauffman) and look at open problems that you can try to solve.  We will also try to construct cubic lattice knots.  Very little is known about these three-dimensional knots, so participants will be conducting on-the-spot mathematical research.  This activity is open to everyone; no prior knowledge of knots is required.

Activity Leader:
Lew Ludwig, Denison University

MAA Undergraduate Student Activity

Using Puzzles to Illuminate Mathematics

Friday, August 8, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom II

Solving a puzzle is a lot like solving a challenging problem in a math class.  The “aha!” moment that is experienced in both circumstances is nearly identical, so it is natural that mathematicians enjoy puzzles and find engaging applications for them.  Come explore a class of puzzles and their applications in courses such as discrete math.  Participants will build their own version of an ancient Chinese linking puzzle to take with them.  

Activity Leader:
Jonathan D. Stadler, Capital University 

Panel Session

Non-Academic Career Paths for Students Who Like Mathematics

Friday, August 8, 2:35 p.m. – 3:55 p.m., Hilton Portland, 23rd Floor, Skyline 2

With events like recent super typhoon Haiyan and super storm Sandy occurring more frequently, many companies have come to realize that there is a greater need to hire those who can measure risk. The need to employ those with quantitative skills will continue to be in high demand. What kinds of jobs are available to those with these analytic and quantitative skill sets? Come to this panel to find out! You'll see that there are jobs in risk management, but also jobs in the tech field as well, Moreover, there are places for mathematicians in non-profits and the government sector too! During this panel we will hear from mathematicians from these various fields. Each panelist will be given the opportunity to describe their non-academic career and how their mathematical coursework prepared them best. Then we will open the floor to questions.

Lisa Marano, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Karen Marrongelle, the Oregon University System
Ben Galluzzo, Shippensburg University

Mike SchumacherPortland Trail Blazers
Kenton WhiteNike
Matthew SottileGalois
Stephen GriecoNike
Andy NiedermaierJane Street Capital

Pi Mu Epsilon Student Centennial Celebration Banquet

Friday, August 8, 6:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Broadway I, II, III, & IV

All PME members and their supporters are welcome. See the registration form for more information on this ticketed event.

Pi Mu Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture

Fibonacci and the First Personal Computing Revolution

Friday, August 8, 8:00 p.m. - 8:50 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom I & II

Keith DevlinStanford University

The first personal computing revolution took place not in Silicon Valley in the 1980s but in Pisa in the 13th Century. The medieval counterpart to Steve Jobs was a young Italian called Leonardo, better known today by the nickname Fibonacci. Thanks to a recently discovered manuscript in a library in Florence, the story of how this genius, about whom we know so little, came to launch the modern commercial world can now be told. 

Based on Devlin’s book The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetical Revolution (Walker & Co, July 2011) and his co-published companion e-book Leonardo and Steve: The Young Genius Who Beat Apple to Market by 800 Years.

Biography: Keith Devlin is a co-founder and Executive Director of the university's H-STAR institute, a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI. He is a World Economic Forum Fellow, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. His current research is focused on the use of different media to teach and communicate mathematics to diverse audiences. In this connection, he is a co-founder and President of an educational video games company, InnerTube Games. He also works on the design of information/reasoning systems for intelligence analysis. Other research interests include: theory of information, models of reasoning, applications of mathematical techniques in the study of communication, and mathematical cognition. He has written 32 books and over 80 published research articles. Recipient of the Pythagoras Prize, the Peano Prize, the Carl Sagan Award, and the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award. In 2003, he was recognized by the California State Assembly for his "innovative work and longtime service in the field of mathematics and its relation to logic and linguistics." He is "the Math Guy" on National Public Radio.

MAA Ice Cream Social

Friday, August 8, 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Besides cake and ice cream, we will recognize all students who gave talks in the MAA Student Paper Sessions, and award prizes for the best of them. All are invited.

MAA Mathematical Competition In Modeling (MCM) Winners

Saturday, August 9, 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., Hilton Portland, Plaza Level, Broadway III & IV

About 400 American teams, each consisting of three undergraduates, entered the 2014 Mathematical Contest in Modeling in February. Teams choose one of two real(istic) problems. The first problem requires a model for analyzing the performance of the Keep-Right-Except-To-Pass rule for drivers. The second requires a model for choosing the best 20th century coach for a sport such as football, basketball, etc. Teams have four days to deal with the MCM challenge and may use or access any inanimate source – computers, libraries, the Web, etc. MAA judges choose a winner for each problem. The two MAA winning teams of students will present their results of the MCM four-day challenge.

Ben Fusaro, Florida State University

Student Problem Solving Competition

Saturday, August 9, 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m., Hilton Portland, Ballroom Level, Galleria I

This event is the finals of the Problem Solving Competition. Universities and colleges that participate monthly on their own campuses by holding problem solving contests are invited to send a contestant. Each contestant will be required to solve a series of mathematical problems. Based on the outcome, a champion along with 2nd through 6th place winners will be named.

Richard Neal, American Society for the Communication of Mathematics

Great Talks for a General Audience: Coached Presentations by Graduate Students

Saturday, August 9, 1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., Portland Hilton, Plaza Level, Broadway I & II

Presenters in this session must be graduate students. While many graduate students will be asked to give a lecture to a general audience, which includes undergraduates and non-mathematicians as part of a job interview, most students do not have experience talking to a non-research audience. This session gives graduate students the opportunity to give a 20-minute talk aimed at an undergraduate audience which has been exposed to calculus and some linear algebra. Both the talks and abstracts should be designed to excite a wide range of undergraduates about mathematics. All participants in this session will receive private feedback on their presentations from an established faculty member and an undergraduate student. Time permitting, a discussion of effective techniques for delivering great general-audience talks will occur at the end of the session.  Contact Jim Freeman ( or Rachel Schwell ( for help on writing an abstract and preparing a talk for a general audience.  Graduate student participants in this session should also attend the graduate student workshop (What’s the Story?) on mathematical presentations. Abstracts must be submitted by June 15, 2014.

Jim Freeman, Cornell College
Rachel Schwell, Central Connecticut State University

Committee on Graduate Students

MAA Student Paper Sessions

The deadline for receipt of abstracts for student papers is Friday, June 6, 2014.  Students may not apply for funding from both MAA and Pi Mu Epsilon. Every student paper session room will be equipped with a computer projector and a screen.  Presenters must provide their own laptops or have access to one.  Each student talk is fifteen minutes in length.

Students who wish to present at the MAA Student Paper Sessions at MAA MathFest 2014 in Portland must be sponsored by a faculty advisor familiar with the work to be presented.  Some funding to cover costs (up to $750) for student presenters is available.  At most one student from each institution or REU can receive full funding; additional such students may be funded at a lower rate. All presenters are expected to take full part in the meeting and attend indicated activities sponsored for students on all three days of the conference. Abstracts and student travel grant applications should be submitted at For additional information visit

Theron J. Hitchman, University of Northern Iowa
Jennifer Bergner, Salisbury University

Pi Mu Epsilon Student Paper Sessions

The deadline for receipt of abstracts for PME student papers is Friday, June 6, 2014. Every student paper session room will be equipped with a computer projector and a screen. Presenters must provide their own laptops or have access to one. Each student talk is fifteen minutes in length. 

Students who wish to present in the Pi Mu Epsilon Student Paper Sessions at MAA MathFest 2014 must consult with their PME Chapter Advisor before submitting a paper or applying for funding. Students may not apply for funding from both PME and MAA. All PME speakers must be members of the chapter at their home institution, which is the chapter that must nominate them to speak in the PME Student Sessions. Joint presentations are not allowed in the PME Student Sessions.

Each chapter may nominate up to 5 student speakers for transportation support of up to $600 per student with a $1200 per Chapter maximum. Transportation expenses include airfare, airport parking, ground transportation, and driving mileage. In addition to travel expenses, Pi Mu Epsilon awards sustenance grants to help pay for students’ food and housing. These grants are funded by a generous grant from the National Security Agency and vary in value each year depending on the number of students needing funding.

All PME students are expected to take full part in the meeting and attend all activities sponsored for students at MAA Mathfest. These events include the Opening Student Reception, the PME Student Paper Sessions, the MAA Lecture for Students, the PME Banquet, and the J. Sutherland Frame Lecture. For additional information visit

Angela Spalsbury, Youngstown State University