A Student Perspective of AN17

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Between 10th and 14th July 2017, Alex Mackay and I attended the international annual meeting of SIAM in Pittsburgh, as the representatives for the Cardiff SIAM-IMA student Chapter. The meeting featured diverse and interesting lectures in a multitude of parallel sessions spanning all areas of applied and pure mathematics, physics, engineering, statistics and operational research, reinforcing the message that these fields are intertwined and can and should contribute to each other.
If I had to choose, I have two personal highlights of the trip. The first was a panel discussion with Dr. Christine Darden, a former ‘human computer’ for NASA, featured in the book ‘Hidden Figures’. The story around this book and film is fascinating, and I would recommend both to everyone. The second was a lecture given by Henry Segerman on Visualising Mathematics with 3D Printing, in which he spoke about using 3D printing to aid education. Visualisation of concepts like hyperbolic surfaces and complex geometries is made possible using his designs, and I personally would have loved to have had these resources available as an undergraduate!
On the second day, Alex attended the student breakfast organised for the Chapter representatives. Even though the breakfast started at 7am and there were several bleary-eyed attendees, it was a great experience to share ideas and discuss the rôle of students in enhancing the SIAM community. We intend to implement many of the ideas which arose from the discussions in our institution over the coming months as we continue to grow as a Chapter.

 

Throughout the conference, we felt valued members of the delegation and I personally feel that the conferences organised by SIAM offer some of the best opportunities for students to attend and contribute. There were many events and social evenings organised, the hospitality of the venue was outstanding and we made great friends and potential future collaboration partners from all over the world. A huge ‘thank you’ is necessary for the administration teams and fellow members of SIAM who organised this this conference and made it such a great success.
All in all, the Pittsburgh experience was great, and it was the perfect setting for an excellent conference. I would highly recommend the city, and of course the next annual meeting of SIAM – to be held in Portland, Oregon next July.
We would like to thank SIAM for providing me with a Travel Award to enable my attendance at this conference, and for providing Alex with the Chapter representative funding. We are extremely grateful for their support in all we do as a Chapter.
Scott Morgan
Cardiff SIAM Student Chapter President

‘Full STEAM Ahead’ for Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter

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:

Robotics (Led by Emotion Robotics)

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!

Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi (Led by Luke Smallman)

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.

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3D Printing (Led by Alex Safar & Danny Groves)

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.

Scott Morgan
Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter President

Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter Three Minute Thesis

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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

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2nd Prize – Alex Safar

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3rd Prize (and Crowd Favourite!) – Danny Groves

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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.

Formation of Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter

As of September 1st, the newly formed SIAM-IMA Student Chapter will begin operating, replacing the highly successful SIAM Student Chapter. An agreement between SIAM and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications has been recently reached, allowing the two institutes to work together to offer a wide range of opportunities to students.
The Chapter will include students and faculty members from across Cardiff University who are interested in mathematics or scientific computing and their real-world applications. As the first SIAM-IMA student chapter to be established in Wales, we will run several student-led activities throughout the year including conferences, seminars and social events.
Becoming a member of the chapter is free and open to any student in the final year of a BSc or MMath degree programme, Masters and PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty members of Cardiff University who are engaged or interested in mathematics or scientific computing and their applications.
For more information please contact:  Scott Morgan (MorganSN@cardiff.ac.uk)
or check out the new webpage: Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter

Cardiff’s Perspective of SIAM AN16

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Between 10th and 15th July I attended the international annual meeting of SIAM as the representative for Cardiff’s student chapter. This year the meeting was held in Boston and I had a fantastic time there. The conference was the largest one I’ve attended, with over 1500 delegates from countries all over the world. The talks were diverse and interesting, with several of the plenary speakers delivering some of the best lectures I’ve ever seen. Particular mention must be given of Tadashi Tokieda, who gave the public lecture on ‘toy models’. This was such an interesting talk, aimed at a general public audience, which I am sure piqued many non-academics’ interest in science – something which I am personally very passionate about.

 

On the second day, there was a student breakfast organised for the student representatives attending the conference. Even though the breakfast started at 7am and there were several bleary-eyed attendees, it was a great experience to discuss the rôle of students in enhancing the SIAM community. I certainly came away from the event with lots of fresh ideas which I intend to implement in our Cardiff student chapter.

 

There were also plenty of other events which are worth mentioning, including the focus group that I was selected to attend to give feedback on the new SIAM website design and the student free book giveaway! This was quite an interesting experience, with over 100 students queueing well before the event. The poster session was also unusual in that it used some e-posters, something which I hadn’t encountered before. These were electronic posters which could include animations and other features not possible in printed versions – an interesting idea which I am sure will become more popular in future years.

 

Throughout the conference, as a student I felt very well taken care of and a valued member of the delegation. There were plenty of events and social evenings organised, and the hospitality of the venue was outstanding. I made some great friends and potential future collaboration partners from all over the world and this is the main thing I feel that I got out of this conference. Without the organisation of the student events, this would be a very different story. Therefore a huge ‘thank you’ is necessary for those students and members of SIAM who organised these activities in particular.

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!

Scott Morgan
Cardiff SIAM Student Chapter President

Success at the 5th SIAM National Student Chapter Conference!

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.

Scott Morgan
Cardiff SIAM Student Chapter President

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