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PIC Math - Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences

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What is PIC Math?

PIC Math prepares mathematical sciences students for industrial careers by engaging them in research problems that come directly from industry.

The PIC Math program aims to:

  • Increase awareness among mathematical sciences faculty and undergraduates about non-academic career options.
  • Provide research experience working on real problems from business, industry and government.
  • Prepare students for industrial careers.

A strong component of PIC Math involves students working as a group on a semester-long undergraduate research problem from business, industry, or government. Undergraduate research is a high impact teaching and learning practice and has been shown to improve students abilities in:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Independent thinking
  • Communicating

All these traits and skills are valued by employers of STEM professionals. PIC Math will supply faculty with tools to offer students experiences designed to better prepare them for the demands that accompany non-academic jobs.

What does PIC Math include?

Summer Faculty Training Workshop

PIC Math includes a three-day summer workshop beginning in 2014 for faculty at U.S. institutions that will provide participants with:

  • Information on non-academic careers and internships to share with students.
  • Guidance on developing business and industry connections and partnerships.
  • Exposure to mathematical and statistical problems that arise in industry.
  • Training on how to develop skills in students that are valued by employers.
  • Preparation for PIC Math’s research course and competition.
Spring Semester Research Course

PIC Math provides faculty with content for a semester-long, credit-bearing course focused on solving industrial problems. Each faculty participant will assemble a team of three to five students and work with them to develop their problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills. Each team will choose from one of five problems that are realistic yet suitable for undergraduate students. Resources for students and faculty participating in PIC Math include a series of training videos on techniques for generating solutions as well as decision aids useful for coping with “messy” real world problems. Course materials also include information and training for industrial careers in particular. Faculty mentoring the research group will receive $5000.

Student Competition

Teams may include students from different institutions as long as the entire group meets weekly by teleconference or electronic means and monthly in person. Each team may collaborate with a business, industry, or government partner and will submit regular progress reports. By the end of the spring semester, students will submit a video presentation and written report detailing their solution. A panel of judges will review and rate each team’s submission.

Student Recognition Conference

Students will present their results in person at a summer conference and be recognized for their competition accomplishments.

How do I apply?

Applications will be due on March 31st prior to the summer faculty training workshop each competition cycle. The first cycle begins in 2014. Faculty applicants will submit:

  • An application form
  • A one-page statement of interest
  • A letter of support from chair or dean

Click here for the application form for PIC Math.

Commitment to Diversity

This program supports underrepresented groups in the mathematical sciences, as well as first-generation and low socio-economic status college students. We are committed to ensuring participant diversity of ethnicity, gender, geographical location, and institution type.

More than one team may apply from a given institution, but because the program seeks to involve as many different institutions as possible, a second team from the same institution will only be considered if space is available.

Schedule: 2014-2015 Academic Year

March 31, 2014 – faculty application deadline
May 2014 – initial acceptance offers sent by email
Summer 2014 – faculty summer workshop
January 2015 – course and competition begin
January-May 2015 – mid-semester competition benchmark reports due
May 15, 2015 -- competition video and report due
June 2015 – results from competition announced
August 5-8, 2015 – recognition ceremony during the MAA’s MathFest meeting in Washington, D.C.

Contact

Directors

Linda Braddy, Mathematical Association of America
Michael Dorff, Brigham Young University
Reza Malek-Madani, United States Naval Academy
Suzanne Weekes, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Please send all questions to Michael Dorff at mdorff@math.byu.edu.

Support for this Program

Support for this program is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF grant DMS- 1345499), along with the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

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