ECM Conference Report
The IMA Early Career Mathematicians’ Spring 2012 Conference took place at Chancellor’s Hotel, University of Manchester, on Saturday 19 May 2012. Following the welcome address by the Chair of the ECMG committee, Ben Dias CMath FIMA, CSci, the day started with my talk, Inspiring Future Generations, in which I emphasised how important it is to get younger people interested in maths – we can show how maths works, how it can be fun and how it links in with so many other fields. I told the group how to get involved as a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador in schools . My theme of promoting mathematics was revisited throughout the day by many other speakers.
Valentin Fadeev then spoke about the design of a method and building bricks of analysis. He showed the group various ways he has looked at a problem for fun to see how it might be solved. During the break for tea and coffee that followed Valentin’s talk the delegates had the opportunity to play the fission games that I brought in to demonstrate the activities I do as part of my STEM outreach. There were also some code-cracking worksheets in preparation for the next talk.
Charles Walkden then got the group cracking codes and explained how he has developed a cryptography competition for schools to get them interested in mathematics through code-breaking. The competition was a huge success in its first year and had many more entrants than expected. Charles said that they plan to run the competition again in a slightly different way and when asked whether grown-ups could take part he told the group that adults can take part but they cannot win the prizes.
Rick Crawford CMath MIMA explained a mathematical method called LEWIS that he has developed to perform quick assessments of nuclear reactor channel functionality. The LEWIS method simplifies the geometries involved which enables assessments to be carried out on multiple channels in a short period of time and it can highlight a few areas of concern to be modelled in more detail with more traditional finite element analysis.
Lunch then followed and everyone got another chance to socialise and get refreshments and ask further questions of the speakers. The ECMG committee also had a short meeting towards the end of the break.
Steve Humble FIMA (aka DrMaths) entertained the group after lunch with some mathematical magic and he explained how he engages with the public as a maths busker to get anyone and everyone interested in maths, whatever their ability. He also told the group how he has worked with school groups in the Newcastle area and how he got a Guinness world record for planning the largest maths class.
Sandy Black then gave some pros and cons to doing a PhD and introduced the topic of modelling combustion using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). Following Sandy’s talk was another tea and coffee break and another opportunity to socialise for the delegates.
Katie Steckles then gave the group a potted history of her activities in mathematical outreach from YouTube videos and maths busking to plays about the Poincaré Conjecture. This concluded the main presentations and talks for the day and rounded off the theme of promoting maths quite nicely.
The delegates were then given the opportunity to vote for the best presentation of the day and the votes were counted and verified by Lizzi Lake, the IMA Conference Officer, during a short talk from Erica Tyson about her activities as the University Liaison Officer.
Ben Dias, then presented Charles Walkden with a certificate for his award-winning talk and asked him to write a report on the theme for Mathematics Today. Then Ben called for everyone to thank Lindsay-Marie Armstrong for organising the conference, although unfortunately she was unable to attend at the last minute. Thanks were also given to Lizzi Lake and her assistant Russell Wallace. I then thanked Ben for being such a great Chair of the ECMG as he is retiring from that role and I presented him with a box of chocolates as a token of appreciation from the committee.
A group photo then followed before 12 delegates and partners met for the post-conference meal at a local Indian restaurant.
On the Sunday morning I met Noel France and Valentin Fadeev at the Museum of Science and Industry for an unofficial tour, which was very interesting and educational.
SHARON EVANS MIMA
VICE-CHAIR OF THE ECMG