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Clarkson University's Turner Helps Establish New Activity Group for Mathematics Education

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) began a new activity group on education in January with help from Clarkson University Dean of School of Arts and Sciences Peter Turner.

Peter TurnerTurner, who served as vice president for Education of SIAM for the last six years, said the organization has become increasingly involved in math education in recent years. SIAM is the leading professional organization for industrial and applied mathematics worldwide.

One of the main recommendations from the Modeling Across the Curriculum initiative, conducted by SIAM and funded by the National Science Foundation, was that SIAM should form a special interest group on applied mathematics education. Modeling Across the Curriculum aims to increase development of mathematical models in undergraduate curricula, develop high school courses on math, and improve college readiness in science, technology, engineering and math -- STEM education.

"This is a response to the challenges in the early years of undergraduate education," Turner said. "There are gaps in preparing students coming into college and STEM fields, and there is time pressure to get them the appropriate materials to make sure you cover the necessary materials and simultaneously ensure that students see that relevance as well."

The SIAM activity group on applied mathematics education will focus on all aspects promoting excellence in applied mathematics educational programs, course and practice. It will cover industrial mathematics, computational science, modeling, data sciences, applied statistics and the application domains. The primary focus is undergraduate education, but will also extend to graduate and K-12 education.

In addition, there now will be conferences on applied mathematics education organized through the activity group, with the first conference aimed for 2016. Turner said the group will provide opportunities for Clarkson faculty to participate these conferences and other activities.

"I anticipate a strong Clarkson presence, and not just people from the math department," he said. "People from physics, engineering, biological sciences and social sciences would be there, too, because part of the theme is the central role that applied mathematics plays in all STEM fields, and that obliges a collaborative effort between mathematicians and other departments."

Turner said his role in SIAM has helped to enhance University's national reputation, and has given him the opportunity to get other Clarkson faculty involved in establishing undergraduate STEM education. He said the SIAM activity group has a two-way benefit for Clarkson: it gives the University increased exposure to exchange ideas on STEM education, and it provides students with access to improved STEM education programs.

"The fact that we've established this reputation in STEM education is a direct benefit to our students," he said.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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