Mathematics Department Open House
Sister Miriam P. Cooney, Professor Emerita of Mathematics and former Chair of the Department, returned to campus during the first week of November to give a series of talks on women and mathematics. For three wonderful evenings, in a room packed with students, faculty and friends, she mesmerized us all with stories of women from the past who loved mathematics and found ways to do significant mathematics, often with little or no support from those around them. She gradually led us to stories of more recent women mathematicians and then to the history of mathematics at Saint Mary’s. Her wonderful collection of pictures made her stories even more powerful. Current students were particularly fascinated by learning about Sister’s efforts to introduce women’s studies at Saint Mary’s. During the last evening, Sister explored issues such as the value of single-sex education for girls, the reasons for the drop outs in the K through Ph.D. in Mathematics pipeline, the male-gene controversy, and models for establishing equity in learning. All in the standing room only audience came away with much to think about! The Department is incredibly grateful for the time and energy Sister so generously devoted to what all said was the best Math Awareness Week ever!
Every year we invite over one hundred seventh grade girls to celebrate and share enthusiasm for science and mathematics with college women who are preparing for careers in related fields. Participants are encouraged to view one another as potential physicians, research scientists, actuaries, and engineers. The girls will interact in the lab with role models - college women who are preparing for a future in these fields.
A separate program for parents prepares them to continue to support their daughters’ academic and career aspirations. A panel discussion will focus on what curriculum best prepares a student for college and keeps all of her options open. Another session will provide information on financial preparation for a college education. There will also be an opportunity for parents to meet and talk to Saint Mary's College science and mathematics students.
Math majors are offered the opportunity to participate in The Mathematical Contest in Modeling sponsored annually by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP). Each year up to six students are invited by the department to enroll in a five week modeling course (Math 382) and spend a winter weekend modeling a problem proposed by COMAP. Students work in teams of three, thus simulating the approach to problem solving most often used in business and industry. In twenty -one years of participation, eighteen Saint Mary's teams have received recognition for their quality work in this international competition, including one of our 2010 team’s “Meritorious Winner” designation—a very significant achievement!
AfterMath is a great opportunity for current SMC students to learn from a panel of recent Math Department graduates what it's like out in the "real world" with regard to jobs, internships, graduate school, and more. In 2009, the Math Department was pleased to offer AfterMath in both the spring and the fall semesters.
The Mathematics Department offers AfterMath to provide students with first-hand information on opportunities available to its majors. We express appreciation to our distinguished alumnae, without whose generosity this program would not be possible. These career women voluntarily give up their weekend and return to Saint Mary’s, thus returning to their successors an opportunity afforded them.