Unprecedented in its all encompassing scope and geographic reach, the MPE2013 year brings to the forefront the universality of mathematics, with the hopes of making the general public aware of the insights it provides into many human endeavors, of its capability of predicting natural phenomena and processes, as well as its power of creating and shaping new discoveries.
This also brings about the need not only to inspire the new generation, but also to develop new educational programs for them, that cultivate vital quantitative skills and sow the seeds of the needed mathematical insights in an increasingly multidisciplinary and interconnected world.
The Professional Science Master’s Programs (PSM), a new breed of graduate programs, have emerged in the last decade and a half as a response to the workforce need for STEM professionals with strong scientific and professional skills. Developed in consultation with business leaders, these programs provide depth in a discipline and breadth in adjacent fields, industrial projects and internships that stimulate creativity and innovation in emerging, predominantly multidisciplinary, areas. Currently almost 300 PSM programs in over 125 universities train students in different scientific areas.
Several PSM programs in financial mathematics, industrial mathematics and data analytics have been developed in recent years, as well as PSM programs that have a significant mathematics and statistics component such as the bioinformatics PSMs. The workshop, Creating Tomorrow’s Mathematics Professionals, npsma.org/past-workshops funded by NSF, held a year ago, focused on PSMs in the mathematical sciences. Representatives from industry, Lilian Wu (IBM), Teresa Eller and Matt Nagowski (M&T Bank), Birgit Schoeberl (Merrimack Pharmaceuticals), addressed the need for mathematicians trained to mine large quantities of data, to use and develop models for financial instruments, for consumer risk and for network biology. Faculty representatives of PSM programs, Lorena Mathien and Joaquin Carbonara (Buffalo State), Paul Eloe (University of Dayton), Peiru Wu (Michigan State), Aric LaBarr (NC State), Sangya S. Varma, Deborah Silver, Ph.D. and David L. Finegold (Rutgers), Syed Kirmany (University of Northern Iowa), and Marcel Blais (WPI), presented their PSM programs, talked about the mathematics curriculum, the other science, engineering, business, and professional skills courses, and presented alumni profiles. For 2013 the National Professional Master’s Association (NPSMA) is planning similar workshops on data analytics and cyber security.
The 2012 SIAM Report on Mathematics in Industry presents 18 case studies of business applications of mathematics that are contained in the areas of business analytics, mathematical finance, systems biology, oil discovery and extraction, manufacturing, communications and transportations, modeling complex systems, computer systems and IT. These suggest that in the next decade the employment for mathematically trained professionals will predominantly be in the finance and insurance industry, life sciences and pharmaceutical industry and information technology; these will need a workforce well trained in the areas of mathematical finance, risk analysis, computational modeling, data analytics, machine learning, optimization and statistics, who also have a good understanding of finance, business, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, etc.; existing and new PSM programs will need to respond to this need.
MPE2013 is aimed at bringing the mathematics community together to work on the challenges facing the planet, at a time when all human activities have global significance and impact. At the same time we need to think at educating the young generation to understand and solve the challenging problems of the Planet Earth.
Bogdan Vernescu, President
National Professional Science Master’s Association