November 28, 2011
WOOSTER, Ohio — At The College of Wooster, students aren’t just learning; they’re doing. And there’s no better example of this integration of theory into practice than the Applied Mathematics Research Experience (AMRE). The innovative eight-week summer program matches Wooster students from a variety of majors with clients in business, industry, education, government, and non-profit agencies. The students, who are usually divided into groups of two or three and assigned a faculty mentor, take on projects that require them to apply their knowledge to a wide range of questions and challenges. By serving as paid consultants, the students gain valuable experience in the practical application of their skills while the clients receive cost-effective solutions to their problems.
Earlier this month, the program celebrated the successful completion of 10 more collaborations — the most in AMRE’s 18-year history — at its annual Projects Day. Among the five groups who presented was the team of seniors Andrew Licking (math and business economics), Huachen Li (business economics), and Kemar Reid (mathematics and biochemistry and molecular biology), who conducted a labor efficiency analysis at Bekaert Corporation’s Orrville facility. “Our goal was to maximize efficiency and determine the optimum number of employees needed at each station,” said Licking. After an analysis of the data, the group designed a management-staffing tool to minimize down time.
Also presenting were seniors Ian Sharpe (history and mathematics) and Hannah Roberts (mathematics) along with junior Ashley Stopka (mathematics). The trio conducted an analysis of actuarial data supporting rate changes for Progressive Insurance. In addition, senior Micah Caunter and junior Michael Janning, both computer science majors, worked on the creation of a public and private website that would provide information about the consumption of electricity, water, and gas on Wooster’s campus.
The other two presentations were made by students who worked on projects for longtime client Goodyear. Juniors Benn Snyder (computer science) and Ruth Steinhour (mathematics) joined recent graduate Josh Thomas in developing a new image tool that would provide a three-dimensional view of the particles inside a tire, while senior Adam Trontz (mathematics) and junior Alexandra Kuzmishin (biochemistry and molecular biology) combined their math and science skills in an effort to measure the sulfur crosslink density of rubber samples. “Learning to think critically through this problem was really interesting,” said Kuzmishin. “It was very valuable to work independently but collaboratively in taking two similar disciplines (mathematics and chemistry) and using them to develop a method to achieve our goal.”
John Ramsay, professor of mathematics at Wooster and founder of the program, said, these projects provide a real-world opportunity for the students to apply their problem-solving skills. It also gives them a chance to observe companies that operate with integrity and do things the right way.
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