Extracurricular Activities Summary
Your Undergraduate experience in mathematics will be greatly enriched by participating in some of the math-related extracurricular activities sponsored by the department. Interaction with your fellow concentrators is an integral part of a well-rounded undergraduate education.
- C.J. Nesbitt Room
- Undergraduate Math Club
- Student Actuaries at Michigan
- William Lowell Putnam Competition
- Local Competitions
- Bulletin Listed Events
- Teaching Opportunites
The C.J. Nesbitt room (2075 East Hall) is the nerve center for extracurricular activity in mathematics. This undergraduate Commons room is a place to relax, study, read or talk to other mathematics concentrators. It was funded by alumni donations to honor Professor Cecil J. Nesbitt (October 10, 1912 to October 22, 2001) who directed our very well-respected program in Actuarial Mathematics for many years.
The Undergraduate Math Club (website) is run for and by undergraduate math concentrators, with the assistance of a faculty moderator. It is an informal organization which sponsors social events and talks by faculty and students. A typical meeting begins with free pizza and drinks, followed by a 30-35 minute talk on an interesting mathematical problem, application, or idea (or all three!). The selected topic is something which isn't usually seen in the standard curriculum. Some of these topics lead into important concepts in theoretical or applied research, while others explain a clever solution to an interesting problem. Everything is formulated to be accessible to students whose technical background consists only of calculus and some exposure to the methods of proof. A few of the meetings will also feature information regarding graduate schools, internships, and career planning.
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The Student Actuaries at Michigan (SAM) club (website) is an organization for undergraduates and graduates interested in the field of actuarial and financial mathematics. There are monthly meetings on topics of interest, sometimes featuring speakers from industry. The group organizes study groups for the professional examinations and coordinates visits to campus of industry recruiters. It also sponsors a variety of athletic and social activities including an end-of-year picnic.
The William Lowell Putnam competition is a nationwide mathematics competition sponsored annually by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). All full-time undergraduate students may participate and each year about 20 students compete. The competition consists of an examination on topics common to the undergraduate curriculum and is given in early December. The emphasis is on ingenuity rather than knowledge. There are both team and individual prizes, including a graduate fellowship. In 1999, the University of Michigan team placed fourth nationally, its best showing ever. As preparation for the Putnam exam, the Department offers a Problem-Solving Seminar which meets weekly during the Fall and Winter terms. Students may receive one hour of course credit by enrolling in Math 289. In this seminar students are exposed to interesting mathematical material not found in other courses and develop their problem-solving abilities. The seminar is open to undergraduate students at all levels.
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The Department also sponsors two local competitions. The University of Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Competition [(UM)2C] consists of an examination given towards the end of the Winter semester each year. It is open to all full-time undergraduates on the Ann Arbor campus and offers substantial cash prizes which vary from year to year depending on financing. The Problem-Solving seminar is also recommended as preparation for the [(UM)2C]. The Mathematics Modeling Competition is held during the Fall semester in conjunction with the Math Modeling Workshop (Math 288). Students compete in small teams to solve a real-world problem by constructing a mathematical model.
Also listed in the weekly departmental bulletin are a great variety of other special events. Many are specialized seminars that are not at a level accessible to undergraduates, but some events include more general colloquium talks, special lectures, and mathematical movies. It is a good idea to check the bulletin every Monday morning; it is posted outside of the Academic Services and Undergraduate Programs Office, 2084 East Hall, and online.
An excellent way to improve your mastery of mathematics is to get involved in teaching it. There are positions available to undergraduates as graders and tutors. Graders correct and grade homework assignments in the larger courses. A student is eligible to grade any course he/she has passed with a grade of B or better, but the positions are competitive. Applications should be submitted to the Graduate Program Office (2082 East Hall) during the first few days of classes each term. Undergraduate graders are currently paid ~$10 per hour.
Undergraduates wanting tutor/proctor positions in the Math Lab and/or the Computerized Gateway Testing Lab should contact the Math Lab Director (currently Irina Arakelian). Applications are then submitted to the Undergraduate Office (2084 East Hall). Tutors provide help in courses through Math 217 and are paid ~$10 per hour.
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