MATH 435 students with staff in the Lancaster County Assessor's Office, fall 2022. Image courtesy Levi Heath.
Math in the City (MATH 435) is an interdisciplinary, hands-on course in which students utilize mathematical modeling to understand current social issues of local and national interest. Participants collaborate with local organizations that provide data and act as consultants.
The learning and discovery process connects academia and industry. Unlike other university-industry partnerships, the design of the projects and the choice of problems is primarily student-oriented, within a timely, "front page news" topic provided by the instructor.
Teams of 3-5 students meet weekly with the instructor and keep in regular contact with the organization after meeting at their workplace.
Students may also present posters explaining their model and conclusions at UNL's annual Research Fair held every spring and/or present posters at regional or national conferences, such as the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings organized by the American Mathematical Society. Reports may also be selected for submission to undergraduate research journals.
It is a great experience and something totally different from anything you've ever done in a course before. Being able to get up there and present at the workshop and feel confident in your results and your project is the best feeling ever.
How to value different raw data is one of the most important skills I learned. I also gained some skills to pick and choose goals that are reachable from goals that cannot be finished.
No specific answer to the problems. Instead of like a normal textbook, you just open up the back to see if you got it right, in this course you have to decide if you think it is right or not.
I liked the fact that we didn't know what we were capable of doing until we did it.
Supported by National Science Foundation award DUE-0941132. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. PI: Petronela Radu.