Graduate students from Canada, Mexico and the United States gathered at the University of Calgary on June 18–27 to collaborate and solve industrial problems using mathematics. Five U of C graduate students were among about 50 participants.

The Mathematical Modeling in Industry Workshop held by the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, a group aimed to research and develop methods for solving industrial issues using mathematics and science, in collaboration with the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences was hosted in Canada for the first time in the program’s 16 year history.

Students in groups of six collaborated and developed mathematical strategies to solve industrial problems presented by the seven companies that sponsored the event, including the Royal Bank of Canada, Siemmens AG, National Institute of Standards and Technology and Boeing. Senior industrial researchers from each company mentored the groups.

U of C assistant professor of mathematics and statistics Yuriy Zinchenko was an organizer of the workshop. He said the event was a unique experience for students to apply their skills outside of an academic setting.

“This is a chance for people to be exposed to real-world math applications and a chance to see what people do outside of the academic sandbox,” said Zinchenko.

Problems presented to the students included optimizing fuel tank design, characterizing fractures within oil reservoirs and cancer radiotherapy treatment.

During interim presentations, biophysics graduate student at the University of Guelph Arun Moorthy said his group learned a lot during the workshop.

“We’ve been learning a lot along the way,” said Moorthy. “The baby steps that we’ve taken have been really good. It’s something that we would never get from a lecture or an assignment, even our own thesis projects, because we are so focused on one specific area.”

Graduate student in statistics at the University of Alberta Cathy Wang said the workshop has been a unique opportunity to network and meet other students and professionals working in similar fields.

“This is a great opportunity, especially for graduate students, to give us a sense of what industrial people do and what kind of projects they are involved with,” said Wang. “It was a great opportunity to network.”

Zinchenko said this event will help put Calgary on the map. “It’s a big event for industrial math in North America,” he said.

Source: Emily Ng, Gauntlet News