A Brief History of MACMATC

The Middle Atlantic Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications Throughout the Curriculum (MACMATC) evolved from activities that University of Pennsylvania Mathematics Professor Dennis DeTurck had begun at Penn in the early 1990s.  The most publicized of these activities was the incorporation of Maple in the undergraduate curriculum.  

At about the same time the National Science Foundation was planning a new  Mathematics Across the Curriculum initiative to build upon the success of the calculus reform program.  Based upon the innovations at Penn, DeTurck was encouraged  to organize a consortium with the goal of seeking support from the new program.  

In the spring of 1994, DeTurck together with Larry Gladney and Jacob Abel at Penn, Frederick Hartmann and Robert Styer at Villanova, William Clee and Joanne Darken at Community College of Philadelphia, and others, put together a proposal for an initial planning grant.  The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics was invited to participate to assist with dissemination, and Polytechnic University was added to the consortium. A planning grant was awarded to MACMATC in Summer 1994.

Work then began in earnest on projects at Penn, Villanova, CCP, and Polytech.  These included an interdisciplinary "on line" course for pre-freshman, a video module on DNA renaturation, mathematics, and thermodynamics, mathematics and imaging, cartographiometry, applications-based precalculus, and mathematics/physics modules.

During the Fall of 1994 work proceeded on planning for the grant proposal for the actual Math Across the Curriculum project that was submitted in February 1995. In early summer 1995 NSF informed the project that the proposal would be recommended for funding pending a site visit and certain revisions. The site visit occurred in late June; the revisions were completed by early July; and the grant was funded that summer.

In the second year of the grant Jacob Abel died.  Abel, who was Professor of Mechanical Engineering, was responsible in large part for management of the grant while DeTurck's strength was innovation.  Abel's death was a significant setback for the consortium, and it took time to recover from this blow. 

A second major change in the program resulted from the appointment of DeTurck as Chair of the Department of Mathematics in the fall of 1997.  While this appointment legitimized the various activities that DeTurck had initiated, it also limited the amount of time that he could devote to the project.  As a result, Gerald Porter assumed the role of project director.  Porter, who is Professor of Mathematics at Penn, was responsible for the day-to-day management of the project.  As Chair, DeTurck remained a creative force in the project.

Funding for MACMATC stopped on June 30, 2001. However, the work begun under the project continues.  Materials continue to be improved and dissemination of the materials is ongoing.  The members of the consortium appreciate the support that they have received from NSF in general and, in particular, from James Lightbourne and Elizabeth Teles, the NSF project officers.