Conference at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications

Sponsored by Honeywell

Organizers: Raymond Johnson, Fletcher Jones, James Turner
Raymond Johnson               Fletcher Jones              James Turner
Department of Mathematics     P. O. Box 218               Dept. Mathematics
University of Maryland        IBM                         Florida A & M 
College Park, MD20742-4015    Yorktown Heights, NY 10598  Tallahassee, FL 32307

Office Telephone Number:


Fax Number:


Electronic Mail Address:

IV. Breakout group recommendations

Each breakout group was asked to discuss the following topics:

1. Undergraduate and graduate education in mathematical sciences

2. Preparing for opportunities

Although each group took a slightly different perspective on the main issues, many common elements were cited. Means of overcoming difficulties faced by students at the transition points (undergraduate to graduate, graduate to work) were subjects of numerous suggestions. Since members of the minority community frequently work in isolation, most of the recommendations were actions for individuals to undertake to prepare themselves better. The key to increasing the number of minority mathematicians is individual inititative on the items discussed below.

The main recommendations from all breakout groups are listed here in four groups; recommendations for faculty and students, recommendations for students, recommendations for academic mathematical sciences departments and recommendations for the professional societies. (Some recommendations are listed under more than one heading.)

A. Actions for everyone

  1.  Get connected;  have and use e-mail and internet access
  2.  Make departmental presentations about this workshop;  invite 
      students from other departments
  3.  Take advantage of computer center resources (C, C++, software
      packages, LATEX, UNIX, EXCEL)
  4.  Encourage the Department to invite speakers who can give talks
      about applications of mathematics (and to make contacts with
      local industry)
  5.  Attend seminars in other departments
  6.  Contribute info to Internet sites for minorities (information about 
      internships, co-ops, programs)
  7.  Become aware of other minority/professinoal organizations
  8.  Look for internships and summer appointments in industrial settings
  9.  Keep in contact with mentors
 10.  Set up a Web site on the Internet containing:
   a) profiles of minority industrial mathematicians
   b) names and research areas of minority graduate students who are 
      working toward Ph.D.; thesis topics when completed
   c) profile of minority businesses
   d) listing of available internships
   e) profile of tools needed for successful graduate experience (C, C++, 
      Hypertext, GAMS, presentation skills, LATEX)
   f) profile of conference abstracts, speakers, e-mail addresses, as in 
      contribute to such sites
   g) information on how to subscribe to minority e-mail lists
   h) current sources of minority scholarships
   i) list of industrial and academic mentors
   j) support for budding entrepeneurs, such as information on how to get
      started, information about others interested in starting businesses
      and information about writing proposals and reviewing proposals
   k) information about getting involved with "virtual" companies
 11.  Use the Web to foster Applied Math team projects
   a) identify hot areas in applied mathematics 
   b) recruit students
   c) encourage students to form teams around these areas
   d) support students planning and executing their chosen project 
   e) encourage student presentations on their projects at conferences

 B.  Actions for students
  1.  Set a goal and remain focused on it
  2.  Spend some time learning how to learn mathematics;  take responsibility
      to prepare yourself
  3.  Explore academic offerings of other departments to broaden research
      opportunities:  take a computer course;  perhaps minor in some area 
      such as engineering, science, business, etc.
  4.  Develop facility with written/spoken language
  5.  Get computational experience;  learn a computer language and how to
      apply it to your problem
  6.  Request a cross-departmental math modeling class with strong industry
  7.  Start an interdisciplinary journal club (students getting together
      to read articles from journals) or a graduate student seminar
  8.  Get involved with a project involving applications or integrating 
      math with other disciplines
  9.  Make contact with other (minority) graduate students for possible
      collaboration on research-seek out a "like-minded" group
 10.  Discuss with advisor "what lies ahead"
 11.  Always keep your resume in mind
    a) go to conferences (for example, SIAM conferences including SIAM's
       Diversity Day during the SIAM meeting at Stanford, July 14-18, 1997)
       and take a leadership role
    b) prepare for conferences by reading abstracts, deciding on talks you 
       will attend and contacting authors of articles in which you are 
    c) do things inside and outside of school to make yourself more
    d) when working on a project, always think about what part or extensions
       will be publishable
 12.  Make an all out effort before graduating and looking for a job
    a) network at every opportunity-attend seminars, attend conferences,
       e-mail authors of articles
    b) contact all your mentors and professors as your near completion
       of MS or PhD, asking them to get the word out that you are close to
    c) ask professors and mentors to send recommendations;  those based on
       personal contact are particularly important
    d) send letters/resumes "out of cycle" when the majority of letters/resumes
       are least likely to come (this is less effective in academe)
    e) always follow up contacts
    f) continually update your resume
    g) stay aware of current events to facilitate conversations during job
    h) call ahead to determine which areas of research are of interest to the
       company with which you are interviewing-meet industry halfway by
       showing them you are a good match with their needs

 C.  Actions for academic mathematical sciences departments
   1.  Organize student-to-student forums conducted by graduate students
       for undergraduate student math majors to talk about the 
       transition to graduate school
   2.  Have a "strategies to get a job" seminar (for undergraduates and/or
       for graduate students).  Invite employers of all types-community
       colleges, four-year colleges, industry and government representatives
   3.  Recognize and support students who plan to enter the job market with
       a BS or a MS degree
   4.  Forward all job listings to all graduate students at all levels
   5.  Offer a math modeling class where students can work on problems
       from industry-expose students to working in teams and learning 
       how to approach problems
   6.  Make the modeling interdisciplinary by cross-listing it with other
   7.  Encourage students who want to take courses outside the Mathematics
   8.  Invite speakers from industry to talk about real-world problems
    a) contact graduates who work in industry
    b) set up an Advisory Committee with invited representatives from local
       industry to provide another source of speakers
   9.  Improve advising for graduate students;  some groups even suggested
       development and use of a placement exam 
  10.  Offer support to students other than teaching assistantships;  research
       internships in industry would prepare students to begin industrial
       careers as teaching assistantships encourage them to pursue teaching
  11.  Be aware of students in other disciplines, such as EE, who take lots
       of mathematics, as sources of double majors and graduate students
  12.  In industry, mathematics departments should explain their usefulness
       to the company;  in academe, mathematical sciences departments should
       explain their usefulness to allied departments

D. Actions for professional societies
   1.  Encourage student participation at meetings
    a) organize events for students
    b) support students attendance at society meetings (as is done by
       the Society for Mathematical Biology)

More information about IMA can found on the IMA web site.

Go back to AARMS Menu