On June 28th, the Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter organised the one-day ‘Full STEAM Ahead’ event, open to secondary school and FE College students, PhD students and staff.
The event consisted of three workshops aimed at inspiring students to engage in STEM subjects, and opened with a short address by Sian Ashton of the STEM Ambassador scheme. This scheme is a national endeavour to inspire young people to continue into STEM careers and anyone aged over 17 can join. Being a member of this scheme would enhance both PGR students’ experiences (by enabling them to have varied teaching practise), and school students’ experiences (by delivering exciting, cutting edge topics into their lessons) and the Cardiff SIAM-IMA Chapter will continue to work very closely with Sian and her colleagues going forward. The workshops on the day were delivered by a combination of PGR Students and industry experts, and consisted of:
Using advanced humanoid robots, Pepper and NAO, we delivered a workshop based around artificial intelligence and automation. This part was run by Carl Clement of Emotion Robotics, who provided the robots for the event. Everyone was captivated and there were plenty of amazed faces in the crowd – they really do need to be seen to be believed!
Bridgend College, in partnership with Sony UKTec provided Raspberry Pi computers and Pi cameras for the event, and with resources from the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s ‘Picademy’, we ran a simple introduction to programming hardware devices with Python.
Students had the opportunity to design and print their own 3D fidget spinners using the freely available browser-based software ‘Onshape’. There was a prize for the best design, submitted on the day and printed later by our colleagues in Engineering. Each student also received a 3D printed ‘gyro’ keyring memento of the event to take away with them.
While the workshops were delivered primarily by Mathematics PGR students, I truly believe that this was a cross-curricular multi-disciplinary event, and embraced the heart of the ‘Applications of Mathematics’. I believe it is fundamentally important to appreciate the wider applications of our subject, and I feel that we definitely succeeded in our goal to inspire a future generation of STEM practitioners. The feedback collected on the day was extremely positive, and building on this event, we look to expand in future years and develop the links with our partner institutions further.
We are extremely grateful to the IMA for providing us with an Education Grant to help this day succeed, and to the Cardiff University Widening Access Fund for covering the cost of lunch. I personally would like to thank my fellow members of the SIAM-IMA Student Chapter committee; Alex Mackay, Danny Groves and Alex Safar, as well as Luke Smallman for delivering a first-class workshop on physical computing with Raspberry Pi. Huge thanks to our friends and partners in Bridgend College and Emotion Robotics, without whom, the event would not have been possible, and also to Debbie Syrop of Cardiff’s Engineering department for all her advice on room bookings, lunch and event management.
Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter President
On 10th May, the SIAM-IMA Student Chapter hosted its inaugural ‘three-minute-thesis’ event. Based on an idea developed by the University of Queensland, the aim for the speaker is to condense their work into just 3 minutes, and give the audience an accessible flavour of their research. Anyone who’s spent months and years working on a topic will tell you that this is no mean feat, and the brief left the speakers thinking hard about how to make themselves stand out in such a short amount of time.
11 postgraduate students from Maths took part, while many more came to watch, and the competition was judged by staff. The stakes were high as the judges took their positions, armed with marking criteria resembling a final MMath presentation and prizes including a Raspberry Pi, t-shirts and a box of Maltesers. The three minute time slot was rigidly enforced by Waleed Ali and the candidates all did exceptionally well when conveying their ideas. The separation in the scores at the end was tiny, and the overall atmosphere of the event was light, friendly and enjoyed by all. Congratulations to the winners!
1st Prize – Nikoleta Glynatsi
2nd Prize – Alex Safar
3rd Prize (and Crowd Favourite!) – Danny Groves
The SIAM-IMA Student Chapter and I personally wish to thank Danny Groves for his excellent organisation of the event, the judges, Andreas Artemiou, Usama Kadri, Matthew Lettington and Waleed Ali and all of the speakers who took part. Thanks as well to all who attended and to Dough baguette shop for providing some excellent pastries afterwards! Given its success, we hope to continue this event in future years.
All in all I thought Boston was a fantastic city, with lots of interesting places to explore and things to see. I would definitely recommend the city, and I would also certainly recommend the next annual meeting of SIAM – to be held in Pittsburgh next July. I for one cannot wait!
On May 27th, the SIAM Student Chapter at Cardiff University were host to the 5th National Student Chapter Conference with plenary talks from Prof. Rene de Borst and Dr. Julie Vile, along with student talks from Cardiff, Swansea, Manchester & Warwick.
Prof. de Borst opened proceedings with a very interesting talk on the mechanics of fracture and fluid flow in porous media, and discussed physical and numerical methods for studying many different types of cracks in materials. Following the plenary lecture was the first of two sets of postgraduate student talks, with many interesting problems being discussed. Students from Cardiff, Swansea, Manchester & Warwick participated and also presented posters over lunch. Finishing up the day was Dr. Julie Vile of the NHS, a former student and lecturer at Cardiff University, discussing the use of Operational Research modelling to redesign many aspects of healthcare delivery. The real world application of this work is paramount, and Julie’s work highlighted the difficulties involved with translating mathematics into real life.
Overall, I felt the day was a great success and was well attended by both members and non-members of SIAM. In particular I thought that everyone engaged very well with all of the talks and with the atmosphere of the event. It was great to see such a high level of integration between students and staff from several departments, and I am sure that this will continue at future events and conferences.
Cardiff SIAM Student Chapter President