Student and Alumni News
Mathematics is one of the few subjects that translates across many languages and cultures. For senior Juliana Martins (pictured above), she discovered her love of math when at 10 years old she moved from Brazil to Georgia.
“I knew very little English at that time, but math was the same here as in my native country so I decided to focus on developing those skills,” said Martins.
Her senior capstone project follows the same idea, showcasing how mathematical concepts can be the same in different cultures over various time periods.
“During a study abroad trip to Peru, we examined an Incan artifact known as quipu,” said Martins. “My research focuses on determining whether these tools were used to monitor the solar and lunar cycles of the 16th century and how that would have been accomplished.”
A quipu is a record-keeping device the Incas used that consists of a series of grouped pendant cords of various colors suspended from a main cord. The pendants are knotted to encode information.
Martins' historical perspective provides just one way math can be used to examine objects and explore ideas.
Senior Sally Gilbreth set her sights on determining the safest and most efficient way to evacuate a building in the case of
“Many escape routes use the shortest distance to an exit as a way find the quickest way to leave a building,” said Gilbreth. “I examined the escape routes in the Arts & Sciences building and I found that taking the shortest route may not always be the quickest way out.”
She discovered that those planned routes often don't take into account the number of people that will be using a designated route.
“I learned that congestion should change the escape routes for certain areas,” said Gilbreth. “In the case of the Arts & Sciences building for instance, it’s better for some people to use the courtyard or go up to the second floor to get to an exit quicker.”
Both of these projects are part of the math department’s senior capstone program. Eighteen students including Gilbreth and Martins presented their research projects at the second annual senior capstone day Saturday, November 23, 2013. Faculty members and fellow students as well as family and friends were there to show support and learn.
“The capstone day is sort of a mini-conference where each student presents his or her research,” said Dr. Ryan Brown, associate professor of mathematics. “The goal of a capstone project is to help students deepen their understanding of a specific topic and to gain a rich research experience.”
In the past, each student had presented their capstone project to faculty on an individual basis, but due to growth in the department, faculty members created this special event last year for all seniors to participate.
“It has been an amazing experience to watch these students develop as they worked through their projects,” said Brown. “With the variety of topics covered, we are able to see the students apply the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired throughout their educational experience.”
Martins plans to use her mathematics major and computer science minor for a career in data analysis or actuary science. Gilbreth will be pursuing her Master of Mathematics Education degree so she can teach at the high school or junior college level.
Both give credit to the faculty and students in the department for the level of learning they experienced and the continued student success.
The Southeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America will be having its annual spring meeting at the University of North Carolina Wilmington on March 13-14, 2015. Please see http://www.maa.org/community/maa-sections/section-meetings for complete details.