PULLMAN, Wash. — A summer mathematics program hosted by Washington
State University is designed to help correct a national shortage of applied
mathematicians.

The intense, seven-week Research Experience for Undergraduates program,
which begins today, is designed to encourage and prepare math majors to go
on for graduate study.

“The country needs applied mathematicians with advanced degrees,” said
program creator V. S. Manoranjan, associate dean of the college of sciences
and professor of applied mathematics. “National laboratories such as Sandia
and Battelle are unable to find enough qualified people, and soon many who
were hired in the 1960s will be retiring. This will exacerbate the problem. In
addition, because of the classified nature of much the laboratories’ work, there
is a great need for U.S. nationals to be trained to fill these positions. The same
situation applies to companies like Boeing that do classified contract work for
the government.”

Eight students have enrolled in the program. Five are from U.S. colleges from
across the nation and three are from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico.
The program received a $30,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to
support the U.S. students. The University of Guadalajara is paying the
expenses for its students to attend.

The students will spend two weeks honing computers skills and learning
necessary mathematical concepts, and then be matched with individual
research projects for the final five weeks. The program has an environmental
theme and the students will work on problems that deal with such “real world”
concerns as groundwater contamination and its remediation and the carbon
cycle in the biosphere.

Mentors for the students are Manoranjan, emeritus mathematics professor
Tyre Newton, applied mathematics professor David Wollkind, and scientists in
the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

“The program is really designed for math students who are attending
institutions that offer no graduate math programs,” Manoranjan said. “Our
hope is to provide a research experience that will get the students excited
about applied mathematics and will attract them into doing graduate work in
mathematics, perhaps even at WSU.”

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