By Kathleen Champion
SIAM UW is the University of Washington’s student chapter of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The student-run organization provides a number of resources for students in the department, from informational tutorials and panels to opportunities for outreach and presentations.
One of the main functions of SIAM UW is to provide resources for students that they may not get from elsewhere. Many of our weekly chapter meetings are geared towards helping first year students. Some of the talks this year included a guide to surviving grad school, a panel about applying for fellowships, and tips for using tools such as Matlab and Mathematica. We also brought in older students to talk about their research and research groups, aiming to give first years an idea of what people in the department are up to. For the first time, we organized a meeting where first years could ask older students questions about studying for the qualifying exam.
Other SIAM UW meetings are aimed at a more general audience. We met with Dan Finkel, a UW Mathematics Department alumnus who started the outreach organization Math for Love. Many students from the department came to hear Dan speak about his organization and to discuss math education. Another week SIAM UW hosted a panel with math faculty members from three different local teaching colleges, giving students an opportunity to learn more about this particular type of academic career.
Another key part of the SIAM UW chapter meetings is the “Meet the Speaker” sessions we hold with visiting Boeing Seminar speakers. These meetings give students the opportunity to speak to faculty members with established careers, learning about their backgrounds and getting the chance to ask for opinions and advice. These meetings often provide useful career advice and lead to lively discussions. In addition to meeting the Boeing Seminar speakers, the “Meet the Speaker” sessions gave students a unique opportunity to participate in the faculty candidate search. We met with each speaker before their job talk, allowing us to gain insight into the job search process and provide feedback on candidates to the department.
SIAM UW also provides a great opportunity for students to become involved in math outreach activities. For many years the organization has put on Math Fairs at local schools, planning a set of fun and engaging activities for elementary school students to learn about math. Past activities have involved mathematical concepts such as the pigeonhole principle, random walks, and Möbius strips, to name a few. SIAM UW also put on an additional outreach event at the Pacific Science Center to go along with their Math Moves! exhibit. We set up five different activity stations in the exhibit for families that were visiting the museum. We had many visitors stop by in the few hours we were there! We hope to continue participating in these types of events by putting together a booth next year at the Pacific Science Center’s annual Husky Research Weekend.
Other fun things SIAM UW did this year included organizing a poster competition for students. The winner, Kelsey Maass, represented the department at the 2016 SIAM Annual Meeting in Boston. The SIAM UW officers also registered the group as an official UW student organization, giving us access to a number of resources and supplies through the university. We have a number of new ideas for the coming year and hope to continue being a useful resource for students in the department!