Math Department Recognized Nationally for Outreach

Friday, February 19, 2021
Image shows young girl working a Rubic's Cube.

The American Mathematical Society has honored the Department of Mathematics for “undertaking an unusual or particularly effective program of value to the mathematics community, internally or in relation to the rest of society.”

The Department of Mathematics’ long-standing, wide-ranging and sustained efforts to inspire future problem solvers and scholars have been recognized as “exemplary” by the American Mathematical Society.

For the first time, Rose-Hulman has received the AMS Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department. This honor recognizes a department that “has distinguished itself by undertaking an unusual or particularly effective program of value to the mathematics community, internally or in relation to the rest of society,” according to the AMS award announcement.

Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons states, “I’m elated to see the outstanding work of our mathematics faculty and students being recognized by AMS. Mathematics is fundamental to every academic degree program that we offer. True to our overall mission, we can’t be a great educational institution without having an outstanding mathematics department. We have a long history of outstanding and caring educators within that department, and that legacy continues to be enriched by our current faculty.”

AMS cited Rose-Hulman’s outreach efforts aimed at elementary and middle school students, high school students, undergraduate students, master’s students, and doctorate students.

“We have always been excited to spread the joys of mathematics to pre-college students and to share the excitement of mathematical research with undergraduate mathematics students,” said David Rader, professor and head of the Department of Mathematics. “The recognition this award provides to us demonstrates that others in the mathematics community understand and appreciate the work done on these endeavors.”

Rose-Hulman’s youth-based outreach activities include on-campus and community Sonia Math Days and Girls Adventures in Math, programs aimed at inspiring young girls to appreciate math; the Wabash Valley and Indiana MATHCOUNTS competitions, testing the skills of middle school students; and the annual fall Rose-Hulman High School Mathematics Contest, which has involved approximately 20,000 students since 1967 from across the Midwest.

Each spring the department hosts an Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, highlighting the work and accomplishments of undergraduate mathematicians and statisticians. Also, the Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Journal has published more than 450 scholarly articles written exclusively by undergraduate students since 2000.

In recent years, Rose-Hulman has invited master’s-seeking students interested in teaching-oriented collegiate positions in mathematics and who are about to complete their degree programs to give a practice job talk and receive feedback from faculty and students. This helps introduce undergraduate students to a variety mathematical topics and ideas they may not deal with in their coursework.

Rader points out that all of these outreach activities involve members of the Department of Mathematics faculty, along with undergraduate and master’s students from mathematics, biomathematics, computational science, data science, or other science and engineering academic programs.

“This AMS recognition is shared by the hard work by many present and past professors and students. It’s their energy and commitment that has built and expanded these fine outreach programs,” Rader said. He adds that in the future, “we hope to build upon the successes we’ve already had to strengthen these programs. We are continually looking for ways to improve the experiences for everyone while also making them more accessible to a wider range of young people.”

The AMS Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department is bestowed upon departments across North America that offer at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences. One college has been recognized annually since 2006. Past recipients have included Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, Williams College, University of Texas, University of Arizona, University of Nebraska, Bryn Mawr College, Franklin College, and Harvey Mudd College.