Mathematics faculty member awarded grant to prepare students for local industries

MichaelSchroederDr. Michael Schroeder, assistant professor of mathematics at Marshall University, has been awarded a competitive grant to prepare students for local careers in applied mathematics.  The grant is part of the Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences (PIC Math) program.

“Students are sometimes not aware of the relationship between careers and what they learn in class,” Schroeder said. “The goal of PIC Math is to show students how mathematics is integral to business, industry and government.”

Schroeder was selected by the national PIC Math program to teach a section of a special course for mathematics majors, in which students focus on semester-long research problems provided by local businesses. The first section of this course will be offered at Marshall and other universities nationwide in spring 2015. In the course, students will analyze real-world problems in detail, and produce video and written reports of their proposed solutions.

Students in the class will work in research groups. “I will essentially act as their manager on campus,” Schroeder said. “The students and I will meet weekly to discuss progress, and we will consult regularly with a company liaison to keep the company up to date with our progress and gather feedback.”

Schroeder said he is reaching out to local businesses such as in Kinetic Park to find problems of interest to local employers.  “We want to engage local businesses to foster a relationship between Marshall and the business community. Our students often stay in the area after graduating, and this program can help them find lucrative jobs in the region.”

The PIC Math program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Mathematical Association of America and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Its goal is to educate mathematics students and faculty about non-academic employment. It also aims to develop ties between universities and local businesses.

The videos and reports from the PIC Math sections nationwide will be judged in June 2015, and the best will be recognized at a national conference in August 2015.

Schroeder has been a faculty member at Marshall for four years. He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011.  His research focuses on discrete mathematics and graph theory.