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PIC Math - Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences

PIC Math 2020 Showcase

What is PIC Math?

PIC Math Logo 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.
  • Teach faculty how to make industry connections in order to provide research experiences for their students to work on real problems coming directly from business, industry, or 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 careers.

What does PIC Math include?

Summer Training Workshop for New Faculty 

PIC Math includes a three-day summer workshop in May of the project year for new faculty at U.S. institutions that will provide participants with:

  • Information on 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 review.

New PIC Math Faculty traveling to the workshop in May will be eligible for travel reimbursement. 

Spring Semester Research Course

PIC Math provides faculty with resources 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. Faculty mentoring the research group will receive a $4000 stipend.

Please note that returning PIC Math faculty will not be eligible to receive a stipend from the PIC Math grant. 

Student Projects Review

Each student project team will 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 each team’s submission and provide feedback to the PIC Math faculty member.

Annual Student Projects Showcase

Students will be given the opportunity to present their results in person at a summer showcase and be recognized for their accomplishments. Students traveling to the showcase along with their faculty advisor will be eligible for travel reimbursement up to $1,000 per institution. 

Click here to see sample course resources, including syllabi, promotional materials, industry research problems, and supplementary resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to see a list of frequently asked questions.

How do I apply?

The applications for the 2020-21 Cohort are now closed.  Check back here in Fall 2020 for the next cycle of applications. A complete application should include:

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

Click here to see current and past faculty participating in PIC Math programs.


Given the uncertainty due to the pandemic, we have decided to postpone the 2020-2021 academic year PIC Math program. This decision was not easy, but we felt it was the best option with all the changes in the academic world including restrictions on faculty travel, the increased time commitment for faculty due to transferring classes to online formats, and the uncertainty on how academia will adapt to the current situation. We plan to resume PIC Math for the 2021-2022 academic year.

This postponement only applies to the cohort for the 2020-21 academic year. The current cohort, 2019-20 academic year, will continue as scheduled. If you are a member of the 2019-20 cohort, and are unsure how to proceed in light of changes at your institution due to COVID-19, please contact Darren Narayan at

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: 2019-2020 Cohort

Spring Semester 2020 – PIC Math courses begin
May 15, 2020 – PIC Math team video and report due for review
June 2020 – results from review announced
August 1, 2020 – recognition ceremony during MAA MathFest



Michael Dorff, Brigham Young University
Suzanne Weekes, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Darren Narayan, Rochester Institute of Technology
Rachel Levy, Mathematical Association of America

Please send all questions to Darren Narayan at

Support for this Program

Support for this Mathematical Association of America (MAA) program is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF grant DMS-1722275) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

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