HPU observes Mathematics Awareness Month

math_awareness_day_for_webBy Kaleigh Tankersley, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – May 24, 2013 – Howard Payne University’s Department of Mathematics recognized April as Mathematics Awareness Month. The national theme for this year, according to the American Mathematical Society, was Mathematics of Sustainability, “balancing needs and seeking solutions for a complex changing world.”

The month of April was an exciting time for the students and faculty in the math department as they hosted HPU’s second annual Math Day and participated in many other events.

During the second week of April, two faculty members and four students from the math department traveled to Texas Tech University to attend the Texas Section Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. While there, the students in attendance represented HPU in the Annual Calculus Bowl. The HPU team consisted of senior mathematics majors Laura Peisker of Cedar Park and Kathryn Barrackman of Houston, as well as juniors James Smith of Comanche and Tim Marlin of Uvalde. Improvement was shown from last year’s team, the first in HPU’s history to compete, as the 2013 team advanced from one of the two preliminary rounds into finals.

“This activity is both fun and competitive for students as it heightens interest in calculus, which is a core discipline for mathematics majors,” said Dr. Kenneth Word, department chair and professor of mathematics.

Toward the end of the month, the School of Science and Mathematics hosted the HPU General Education Math Day. The keynote speaker was Michael Sullivan, professor of mathematics at Joliet Community College in Illinois, the oldest community college in the U.S. Sullivan is the author of “Fundamentals of Statistics,” a Pearson Education publication, which is the textbook used for Introduction to Probability and Statistics at HPU. Sullivan demonstrated a statistics software program called StatCrunch used for data analysis and descriptive statistics that accompanies the MyStatLab software used with his textbook.

The School of Science and Mathematics also hosted the Engineering Math Day, featuring guest speaker Dr. Ron Larson, professor of mathematics at Penn State University in Erie. Dr. Larson is known as the lead author of a comprehensive program for mathematics which spans middle school, high school and college courses. Dr. Larson is even more well-known on HPU’s campus as the author of the pre-calculus text and co-author of the calculus text, both Cengage publications, currently used by the math department. Dr. Larson spoke about six mathematical models that are the basis for most mathematical, physics and engineering problems. He particularly discussed the linear model used to determine Hooke’s Law and the linear regression of a natural logarithmic model used to determine Kepler’s Law concerning the orbits of the planets around the sun.

Also speaking at Engineering Math Day was Thomas Hummel, a graduate of Texas A&M University in College Station and Central Texas College near Fort Hood. An IBM circuit design engineer and retired Army veteran, Hummel is also a veteran of the Iraqi campaign. He spoke of the importance of mathematics in building one’s resume for career prospects in science or engineering.

According to Dr. Word, Mathematics Awareness Month has become a tradition for the HPU mathematics department over the last two years.

“This tradition not only benefits the department but the whole campus as well,” he said.

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Photo cutline: Dr. Ron Larson, professor of mathematics at Penn State University in Erie, speaks to students during HPU’s Engineering Math Day.